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BOOK 974. C 152 v. 1 1898 ed c. 2 
ENGLAND & AM 1892 

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Fac-Simile of letlev from ihe Right Honorable W, E. Gladsrorre to Mr. Douglas Campbell, concerning 
" The Puritan in Holland, England, and .^merita." 


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Copyright, 1892, by Douglas Campbell. 
All rights reserved. 





Reasons for writing another book about the Puritans .... xxiii 

Investigations among early New York records xxiv 

New England institutions found in New York when a 

Dutch colony , xxiv 

Holland must have been a common source, as they did 

not come from England xxv 

Search for others. — Puritanism as a political force began 

in Holland xxvi 

The war with Spain a Puritan war. — Great number of 

Englishmen in the Netherlands xxviii 

[nfluence on England overlooked by English historians. . xxix 
Influence on America more marked, but equally over- 
looked XXX 

Incompleteness of American history, and its causes. — 
Written only from English standpoint. — English self- 
appreciation xxxi 

Another cause. — Scientific historical investigation of very 

modern growth xxxiii 

All histories being rewritten xxxiv 

Dangers of early writers in Europe xxxv 

Until a recent date, government archives closed to the 

public xxxvi 

Difficulties in the way of their examination in England . xxxvii 


Little attention paid to foreign history when American 

history first written xxxix 

Results of modern investigation xl 

Early American history where Bancroft left it fifty years 

ago . . , xli 

History of English Puritanism unintelligible as usually 

written, and why xli 

Neglect of the influence of the Netherland Republic .... xliii 
When America settled, Holland, in general civilization, 

led the world by about two centuries xlv 

New England Puritans misrepresented in history xlvi 

Modes of meeting charges against them xlvii 

English, and not Puritan, defects of character exhibited 

in America xlix 

The whole truth regarding English civilization the vindi- 
cation of the New England Puritans 1 

Scope of this work 11 



Assumption of most writers that the people of the United 

States are an English race with English institutions, ... 1 

Effects on American history 2 

How this idea has been developed 3 

Ignorance of Englishmen regarding America 5 

For Americans no such excuse 6 

American people always cosmopolitan. — Some of their 

leading men in colonial days 7 

Middle colonies at time of Revolution. — Half of population 

not English 9 

Leading institutions of United States not of English origin, 11 

Influence of institutions upon national character. 11 

No State Church as in England. — Its importance there. , . 12 

Its abolition in the United States 15 

Principle of civil equality underlying American system. — Its 

derivation 16 



The written Constitution of the United States and Eng- 
land's unwritten Constitution l"? 

The President, Senate, House of Representatives, and Su- 
preme Court. — Not English 19 

How regarded by English statesmen 20 

The state constitutions more important as showing the 

growth of American institutions 22 

Their development and provisions 23 

Distribution of land in England, and its effects. — Primo- 
geniture 25 

Obstacles to its alienation. — No recording system 26 

Enclosure of English common lands 27 

England entering on an era of change 27 

Distribution of land in the United States. — Its importance. 29 

Popular education in America. — Its early date 30 

Popular education in England. — Its recent date 32 

Opposition of the governing classes 33 

Public libraries in England and America 35 

Free high schools and colleges 36 

Defects in English university education. — Why American 

students go to the Continent 38 

Rapid progress of American colleges 41 

Local self-government. — The English system incomprehen- 
sible 42 

The American system, township, county, and state 44 

Importance of the townships. — The system not English. . . 45 
Religious liberty in England and America. — Date of its 

introduction 47 

Freedom of the press. — Date of its introduction 48 

The written ballot. — Date of its introduction 51 

English and American charitable institutions contrasted. . . 54 

Prison reforms. — Debt of England to America 55 

America's reformatory institutions copied in Europe 57 

America's legal system and its origin 59 

Opposition of the colonists to English jurisprudence 61 

Modern jurisprudence derived from the Roman law 63 



The character of this law 64 

Influence of ancient Rome on modern society 65 

Rome when the civil law took its present form 68 

American legal reforms copied by England VO 

America's debt to England — language, literature, character, 

Yankeeisms, etc „ Y2 

The theory that the institutions of America were invented 

by the early settlers 74 

America the old world 76 

The institutions of America very old; partly Roman, partly 

Germanic 77 

The Netherlands preserved Roman institutions and Ger- 
manic ideas of freedom 78 

The home of the English race and the instructors of England 79 

Causes and effects of England's prejudice against the Dutch 79 

Americans should not share it 82 

Importance of Netherland history to the modern student. . 83 
The Netherland Republic as contrasted with monarchical and 

aristocratic England in learning, art, and public morals, . 84 
The English have never understood republicans in Holland 

or America 87 

Puritanism and American institutions 88 



The Puritan of Holland 90 

The country of the Netherlanders a conquest of man 92 

The geographical factor in history. — England an illustration 95 

Its importance in the Netherlands 96 

Influence on the national character 98 

The importance of the human factor 100 

The early inhabitants of the Netherlands 101 

Germans in the North, Celts in the South, the foremost of 

their races 101 



Their cliaracteristics 102 

The Hollanders preserved their Germanic spirit 104 

Connection with Rome and Italy. — Its influence 105 

Contrast between England and the Continent 106 

Italy never became barbarian. — The crusades and their 

results 108 

Italians in the Netherlands 110 

Development of agriculture. — The Netherlands become the 

instructors of Europe Ill 

England's backwardness 112 

Development of manufactures and commerce. — They be- 
come the manufacturing centre of Europe 113 

Originate woollen manufactures 114 

Advance in the fourteenth century. — Wealth and luxury 

as compared with France and England 115 

Outstrip Italy in the commercial race 117 

Their architecture, ecclesiastical and secular 118 

Their town-halls the delight of the artist 120 

Private dwellings, their furniture, etc. — Comparison with 

England 120 

Painting. — Founders of modern art. — Discover oil-painting 122 

Originate portrait and landscape painting 124 

Character of Netherland art. — " The beautiful the splendor 

of the true " 125 

Foremost in the mechanical arts, jewelry, tapestry, etc. . . . 126 

Wood-engraving their discovery. , 127 

Printing from blocks 128 

Printing from type its natural sequence. 128 

Music. — Furnished music and musicians to Europe for two 

centuries 129 




Contrast between Puritanism in the Netherlands and in 
England, and causes of difference 131 



Condition of the Netherlands at the abdication of Charles 

v., 1555 134 

Seventeen separate states, each with its individual govern- 
ment. — Their population 135 

Holland and the herring fishery 136 

The towns of the Netherlands, a survival of Roman institu- 
tions. — Citadels of freedom 137 

Bruges and its origin. — A modern town 139 

The guilds, partly Roman and partly German 140 

Their organization and government. — Minor republics. . . . 142 

Spirit of equality in guilds 144 

Albert Diirer and the Painters' Guild of Antwerp 145 

The Netherland towns, their charters and form of government 147 

Antwerp a type of the larger towns 148 

Town government in Holland 150 

The rural districts. — Serfdom abolished. — Condition of the 

peasants 151 

The organization of the State, and State government. — No 

taxation without consent 152 

First meeting of the States-General, 1477 154 

The Magna Charta of Holland. — Its provisions 155 

Freedom of trade and commerce 156 

Education. — Organization of the " Brethren of the Life in 

Common," 1400 158 

Their numerous schools, and their influence on education. 159 
Scholars in the Netherlands. — Erasmus, Vesalius, St. Alde- 

gonde, etc 160 

Phenomenal education of the masses 161 

The Reformation in the Netherlands. — Heresy an old story 162 
Early editions of the Bible in the common tongue. — More 

generally read than in any other country 163 

The Reformation begins at the bottom among the common 

people. — Its exceptional character 164 

Victims of the Inquisition greater in number than in all 

the rest of Europe 166 

Protestant sects in the Netherlands. — Lutherans, Calvinists, 

and Anabaptists 167 



Religion and morality not necessarily allied in Europe in 

the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries 168 

This severance not confined to the Catholics 169 

Holland a moral country, and so the bulwark of Protes- 
tantism 1 VO 

Private and public integrity iVl 

High position of her women 172 

Why revolution did not come earlier. — Philip II. contrast- 
ed with his father, Charles V 173 

Eleven years of misrule and Inquisition 174 

Origin of the " Beggars," 1566 175 

The Iconoclasts 176 

Philip II. and his chief adviser, the Duke of Alva 177 

Bright prospects for Spain a century before 178 

How her liberty was destroyed 179 

Disastrous effects of discovery of America on Spanish 

character 180 

Ruin of national prosperity. — Military greatness 181 

Alva a typical Spanish soldier of the time. — His arrival in 

the Netherlands, 1567 182 

The Council of Blood 183 

Exodus of Netherlanders to England 184 

William of Orange 185 

His undisciplined armies defeated by Alva 186 

The " Beggars of the Sea." — Elizabeth's seizure of Philip's 

money 188 

Alva's financial difficulties. — His proposed tax and its effects 189 

Suspension of business, and Alva's plan for its renewal. . . 192 

Capture of Brill by the " Beggars," 1572 „ . 193 

General uprising in the northern provinces 195 

Reorganization of the government by a popular vote 197 

Bright prospects for the future, 1572 198 

France friendly — deliverance at hand 200 



Massacre of St. Bartholomew, its causes and disastrous re- 
sults in the Netherlands. — Elizabeth's connection with it 201 

Cuts off all hopes of French assistance 203 

Holland left to fight alone 203 

Reliance of William of Orange on Providence. — Basis of 

Puritanism 204 

Position of Holland, and character of the war 205 

The siege of Harlem, 1573 206 

Its surrender. — Cold-blooded butchery of garrison and in- 
habitants. — Great loss of Spaniards 209 

Spaniards repulsed from Alkmaar. — Refuse to assault the 

works. — The country flooded 211 

Alva recalled to Spain. — His work a failure. — Succeeded 

by Requesens 212 

Siege of Leyden begun, 1574. — Successes of the patriots. . 213 
Rejection of proposed amnesty on condition of giving up 

the religious question 215 

Leyden saved by cutting its dikes. — Heroism of the in- 
habitants 216 

University of Leyden founded, 1575. — Marks an epoch in 

the history of education 217 

Becomes the centre of the learning of Europe ,. 218 

Its famous scholars. — Honors accorded to them 219 

Contributions of Holland to science 222 

Invents the telescope, microscope, pendulum clock, etc. . . . 222 
Tolerance of Leyden. — English Dissenters among its pupils 223 
University of Franeker. — Instruction free as in Leyden. . . 224 
Application of confiscated church property in the Nether- 
lands. — Contrast with England 225 

Hospitals and soldiers' homes 226 





The perilous condition of Holland 228 



Death of Requesens, 1576 229 

Mutiny of Spanish soldiers. — " The Spanish Fury." — They 

sack Antwerp and other towns 229 

All the provinces unite to drive out the invaders 229 

Arrival of Don John of Austria 230 

His romantic scheme for the conquest of England 231 

Assistance for the Netherlanders from England and France 231 

Death of Don John 232 

Arrival of the Prince of Parma, 1578, a soldier and a diplo- 
matist 233 

He wins back the southern provinces. — The North stands 

firm „ 233 

" The Union of Utrecht " the written constitution of the 

Netherland Republic, 1579 233 

Declaration of Independence, 1581. — Its importance. — Cop- 
ied by England and America 234 

The Duke of Anjou, brother of the French king, proclaimed 

sovereign 236 

Wooing of Elizabeth by Anjou. — Its comical and serious 

features 236 

Anjou accepts the sovereignty of the Netherlands. — His 

inglorious career and death, 1584 238 

Attempts of Philip to bribe William of Orange 240 

His assassination, 1584. — The foremost Puritan of the age. 240 

Results of his work. — Seven provinces redeemed 241 

Difficulties of his task. — Comparison with Cromwell 242 

Religious toleration established. — Its novelty in Europe. . . 243 

William denounced at home, but he carries the day 244 

He protects the Anabaptists, who first proclaim religious 

liberty and separation of Church from State 245 

Their doctrines and their treatment in other countries. . . . 246 
Origin of religious liberty in the United States. — Its debt 

to Holland 249 

Virginia's Declaration of Rights, 1776 250 

New York first establishes religious liberty by constitu- 
tional enactment 251 



Influence of Holland in religious matters on the general 

government of the United States 252 

Results of the assassination of William of Orange. — The 

people have no thought of surrender 254 

A republic forced upon the Netherlanders 256 

They offer the sovereignty to France. — The " Holy League," 

formed against Henry of Navarre, prevents its acceptance 257 

Spain marching on to universal dominion , 259 

Protestant England and her queen 260 

Thus far Elizabeth had kept out of the religious war upon 

the Continent. — Her methods no longer practicable. . . . 261 


Obstacles to a correct view of the Elizabethan age in Eng- 
land 262 

False glamour of the poet and novelist over an age very 

backward in many directions 263 

Poetry not a fruit, but the flower, of civilization. — Homer 

and Dante 265 

Shakespeare and Bacon produced by the same causes. . . . 266 
Bacon not a learned man ; ignorant of science, Latin, etc. . 267 
Little appreciation of Shakespeare in England until a re- 
cent date 268 

The same true of Bacon as a scientist 269 

History of England a peculiar one, marked by waves of 

progress, all due to foreign influences 271 

Modern tendencies to exaggerate the Anglo-Saxon influence 273 

High civilization under the Ptomans 275 

Its importance to the student of Continental history 276 

Entirely obliterated by the Anglo-Saxons 277 

The country becomes again a pagan barbaric land 278 

The Anglo-Saxon barbarians. — "Battles of Kites and 

Crows " 279 

The Anglo-Saxons deteriorate, lose their ideas of personal 
freedom. — The king, the serf, slavery 280 



Conversion of England. — Its character and results 282 

The Danes and King Alfred 283 

Results of six centuries of Anglo-Saxon rule. — English 

virtues 284 

The Norman conquest the great event in English history. . 287 
How the Normans obtained their civilization. — Connection 

with Rome and the East 287 

Conquest of England. — Comparison of the Normans with 

the Saxons 289 

They introduce the French language. — English disappears 

for nearly three hundred years „ . . . . 290 

Build the cathedrals, found the universities 291 

Study of the Roman civil law begun 292 

Debt of England to the Jews. — They introduce the study 

of the physical sciences. — Roger Bacon 293 

The Normans give England her institutions, good and bad, 

the feudal system, judiciary, trial by jury, etc 295 

Magna Charta. — Its origin and character 296 

Organization of the English Parliament 296 

Expulsion of the Jews. — Introduction of the Netherland 

weavers 299 

Final absorption of the Normans by the Anglo-Saxons. — 

Return of the English language. — England rapidly goes 

down „ 300 

Chaucer stands on the border line. — His song awakens no 

echo . 300 

The Hundred Years' War with France. — Disastrous results 

to England 301 

Pestilence. — Abandonment of agriculture. — The sturdy 

beggars. — Restriction of the suffrage 303 

Decline of learning. — Wyclif and the Lollards 304 

The Wars of the Roses still more disastrous in their results 305 
Despotism of the Tudors. — Civil liberty trodden underfoot. 

— Literature and learning almost dead , 307 

The printing-press in England. — Its paltry results 308 

The Oxford reformers and their small classical acquirements 309 



Advanced scholars on the Continent 310 

The Reformation and its evil effects under Henry VIII. . . 312 

The movement almost entirely a secular one 313 

Still worse under Edward VI , 314 

Proposition to demolish Westminster Abbey 315 

Demoralization of all classes. — Public corruption. — Fraud 

in manufactures 316 

Religious reaction under Bloody Mary. — Tale of the martyrs 31V 
When Elizabeth ascended the throne, the state of society 

the worst that had ever been known in the land 319 




Changes in England during the last three centuries 320 

At accession of Elizabeth little commerce, manufactures, or 

agriculture. — Largely a pastoral land 321 

Revolution of industries produces great demoralization of 

society 321 

Dwellings of the English 322 

The Shakespeare house at Stratford 323 

The first English theatres 324 

Mansion-houses of the gentry 326 

Chimneys very rare, also window-glass, beds, carpets, and 

chairs 326 

Great improvements with increase of wealth under Eliza- 
beth 327 

The castles of the Earl of Northumberland. — Their accom- 
modations 328 

London and its houses 330 

Rushes for carpeting. — The queen's palace 331 

Forks unknown until 1611. — Table knives introduced, 1563 332 

The Englishman's food 333 

Prices of the time 333 

Fondness for sweets 335 

The dress of the Englishman. — Its peculiarities 336 



Female attire. — Introduction from the Netherlands of starch- 
ing and linen underclothing 336 

Reverence for the crown. — Its manifestations 337 

Popular sports, bear and bull baiting 340 

Education. — Exaggerated ideas from a few isolated cases. 341 

Elizabeth and her acquirements 342 

England far behind the Continent in the classics. — Mathe- 
matics and science reprobated. — Experience of Giordano 

Bruno 343 

Reform of the calendar, 1582 345 

Not adopted in England till 1752. — Opposition of the 

people. 346 

Peers of the realm could not read 348 

Ignorance of the middle and lower classes. — Shakespeare's 

family 349 

Retrogression since Norman times 350 

Condition of religion 351 

The clergymen 352 

The bishops 353 

Decline of morality. — Its causes 353 

Foreign opinions of Englishmen 354 

Elizabeth's untruthfulness, bad faith, dishonesty, and pro- 
fanity. — An example for her people 355 

Immorality of her court. — Increases during her reign 357 

Morals of the people at large 358 

May-day and other festivals. — Their excesses 359 

Evil influences of Italy and its literature 360 

Earnest men in time will work a revolution 361 





Character of men about the court 363 

Corruption in State and Church 365 

Administration of justice 366 



Every right trampled underfoot 367 

Protest from the judges, 1592 368 

Pardoning of criminals a regular business among the cour- 
tiers and maids of honor 369 

Prevalence of crime. — Bands of robbers 370 

Adulteration and fraud in manufactures 372 

Gambling. — Its curious forms 373 

Usury. — Lotteries. — Drinking 374 

The English in Ireland. — Their objects , , 375 

Opinion of Lord Burghley as to Irish rebellions 376 

Attempt of Earl of Sussex to assassinate Shan O'Neil, 1561. 376 

Second attempt with poison 377 

Scheme of English worthies for plundering Ireland, 1569. 379 

Massacres by Sir Humphrey Gilbert, etc 380 

Earl of Essex's breach of hospitality and murder of two 

hundred Irish, 1573 380 

His massacre of six hundred women and children at Rathlin 381 

Sussex, Gilbert, and Essex in history 383 

English piracy. — Its importance 384 

Cabot's voyage. — No effects on English commerce, which 

was almost wholly in the hands of foreigners 385 

Spanish and Portuguese commerce. — Its expansion 386 

English shipping. — Its low condition 387 

Lord Burghley's scheme for encouraging mariners. — " Pi- 
racy detestable and cannot last " 388 

It does last, and builds up England's naval greatness 389 

Its origin and character 389 

Attempts of Spain to keep the peace 390 

Englishmen plunder Catholics and Protestants alike 390 

Piracy leads to the slave-trade of England 392 

African slavery in America 393 

Attempts of Spanish government to mitigate its evils 394 

Voyages of John Hawkins. — The queen his partner 395 

Disastrous termination of third voyage. — Fires English 

heart 397 

Elizabeth seizes Philip's money. — Results of her action. , . 398 



Francis Drake leads a piratical expedition 401 

Drake sails around the world, 1580 402 

Distribution of his plunder. — Knighted for his piracy. , . . 403 
Burghley, Sussex, and Walsinghara refuse to share his 
spoils. — They desire open war with Spain, which Eliza- 
beth opposes 403 

Drake a national hero 404 

Growth of the spirit of patriotism. — Hatred of Spain .... 405 

English Protestantism. — Influences at work 407 




Character of English Reformation 408 

Compromise disliked by the earnest men of either party . . 409 

Religious torpor in England 409 

Apathy of English Catholics 410 

A sudden awakening 411 

Catholic reformers on the Continent produced by the Ref- 
ormation 411 

The Jesuits, their origin and growth 412 

Their missionary work 413 

Reform the Catholic Church 414 

Establish free schools 415 

Become the educators and confessors of Catholic Europe.. 416 

Not consistent with historic truth to conceal their virtues. 417 

Check Protestantism. — Become the bulwark of papacy. . . 4l7 

England a missionary field. . 418 

English missionaries educated at Douay and Rome 419 

Their success in England 420 

Jesuit mission, 1580. — Campian and Parsons 420 

Revival of Catholicism, and its causes 421 

The people open to conviction. — Proportion of Protestants 

to Catholics 423 

Crushing out the Catholic revival. — Why it was possible. . 424 

English Puritans. — Their place in history 425 



Opiuions of Hume, Hallam, and Macaulay 426 

Novelty of Puritan principles in England 429 

Growth of Puritanism unexplained by historians 429 

Accession of Elizabeth 430 

Uncertainty as to the religious future of the nation 431 

Why Elizabeth proclaimed Protestantism 432 

Action of her first Parliament. — It reconstructs the Eng- 
lish Church 433 

Vast powers conferred on the queen 434 

Eeturn of the English Eeformers from the Continent. — 

Their experiences abroad 435 

Inclined to Calvinism, and opposed to forms and cere- 
monies, and why 436 

Their expectations for the future 437 



Elizabeth's religious inclinations 438 

Controversy in the Church over the question of ceremonials 439 

Name of Puritan comes into existence, 1564 440 

Persecution of the Puritans begun, 1565 441 

John Foxe and his " Book of Martyrs." — Its great influence 442 

Its author a Puritan. — His treatment 444 

Persecution of Miles Coverdale, the translator of the Bible 

into English 445 

Suppression of independent congregations, 1567 446 

English statesmen opposed to persecuting the Puritans. . . 446 

Motives of Elizabeth 447 

Her scheme of reconciliation with Rome. — The Puritans 

its greatest obstacle. 449 

Her communications to the Spanish ministers 450 

She shields the Catholics 451 

Corruption in the Church fostered by Elizabeth, and why. 453 

Dishonesty of her bishops , 454 



How the bishops obtained their offices 455 

Elizabeth the great plunderer of the Church 456 

Ignorance of the clergy 457 

The Puritans favor education. — Discouraged by Elizabeth. 458 
The Spanish advisers of Elizabeth warn her against the 

Puritans , 460 

Thonaas Cartwright advocates Church reforms on Presbyte- 
rian lines, 1570 462 

Denounces the system of appointing bishops. — The system 

still in use 463 

Expelled from Oxford and flies to the Netherlands 465 

Continued persecution of the Puritans 466 

Attempt of the bishops to educate the clergy, 15'71 467 

Suppressed by Elizabeth 468 

Anabaptists burned for heresy, 1575 469 

Archbishop Grindal suspended for favoring preaching and 

the education of the clergy 470 

Whitgift appointed archbishop, 1583. — His ignorance and 

narrow-mindedness 470 

Elizabeth determines " to root out Puritanism " 471 

Whitgift introduces a system which Burghley says is mod- 
elled after the Inquisition in Spain 47l 

Wholesale expulsion of Puritans 473 

High Commission Court organized. — Its vast powers 474 

The English Inquisition and its results 475 

Protests from Privy Council, Catholic and Protestant, una- 
vailing 476 

Low state of clergy. — Morality of no account in compari- 
son with conformity 477 

The Bishop of London will not remove a conforming cler- 
gyman " for the mere fact of adultery " 478 

Early Puritanism dying out under continued persecution. . 480 






The influence of the Marian exiles does not explain the re- 
ligious history of England 481 

Decline of Puritanism among the upper classes 483 

Results of Elizabeth's persecution 484 

How Puritanism came to dwell among the middle classes 

and the poor unexplained by historians 486 

Early emigration from the Netherlands into England 487 

The Lollards found where the Netherlanders had set- 
tled 488 

Under the persecutions of Philip II. the stream becomes a 

mighty river 488 

Number of Netherland refugees in England, and places 

of their settlement 489 

Beginning of the industrial history of modern England . . . 490 
The refugees instruct the English in agriculture, manufact- 
ures, and commerce 491 

Aid in making England Protestant and free 492 

Greatest missionary work known to history. — Its peculiar 

advantages 493 

The Netherland settlements the strongholds of English 

Puritanism « 495 

Influence in developing a love of civil liberty 495 

The places of their settlement the recruiting ground of 
Cromwell's army, and the homes of the settlers of New 

England 497 

More immediate influence on England 500 

Contest with Catholicism as a political power <> 501 

The war in the Netherlands an object-lesson to England. . 501 
Fifty thousand Netherland families proclaiming the atroci- 
ties of Catholic Spain 502 

EfEect on Eno-land 502 



Impressionable nature of the English people 503 

English volunteers for the war in the Netherlands 504 

Exhibition of ancestral courage 505 

Catholic uprising in Ireland, 1580 507 

Ferocity developed by the Irish wars. 508 


I HAVE attempted in the following pages to trace 
the origin and development of Puritanism, the greatest 
moral and political force of modern times, with special 
reference to its influence on the people and institutions 
of the United States, my lines of investigation differing 
widely from those which have heretofore been followed 
by historians. How the work came to be undertaken 
is, of course, in itself a matter of no importance. And 
yet a public, well-nigh surfeited with books about the 
Puritans and the early settlers of America, may reason- 
ably call upon an author to give, at the outset, some 
good reason for asking a further share of its attention 
to an old and apparently threadbare subject. To such 
a very proper question this preface is intended as an 

When a law student, more than twenty-five years ago, 
I began collecting material for a history of the jurispru- 
dence of Colonial ISTew York, The field was compar- 
atively unexplored, for, as I discovered, most persons 
supposed that little was left of the old records. Much to 
my surprise, I found in various quarters a great wealth 
of matter, and after some years began to arrange the 
results of my investigations. Then, finding how closely 


political and legal questions were intertwined in this 
early history, I concluded to enlarge the scope of my 
work, so as to show the growth not only of the legal 
but of the constitutional system of the state. And here 
I met a series of surprises, for I encountered at every 
turn traces of institutions and ideas, generally supposed 
to have been derived from England, or at least to be of 
New England origin, but Avhich clearly, so far as con- 
cerned New York, were derived from a different quar- 
ter. Here were free schools, the system of recording 
deeds and mortgages, lands held in common by the 
towns — all under the old Dutch rule ; here the doctrine 
was first laid down by a legislative assembly that the 
people are the source of political authority ; here w^ere 
first established permanent religious freedom, the right 
of petition, and the freedom of the press. On the other 
hand, here were no executions of witches or Quakers, 
and no kidnapping and enslavement of the Indians. 

In comparing this record with that of New England, 
the points of contrast were no less remarkable than those 
of resemblance, while all the deductions from such a 
comparison were opposed to the ideas inculcated by our 
current histories. From their earliest school-days Amer- 
icans have been told that this nation is a transplanted 
England, and that we must look to the mother-land as 
the home of our institutions. But the men who found- 
ed New York were not Englishmen ; they were Holland- 
ers, Walloons, and Huguenots. The colony was under 
Dutch law for half a century ; its population was prob- 
ably not half English even at the time of the Revolu- 
tion ; and yet here one finds some of the institutions 


which give America its distinctive character, while, what 
is more remarkable, no trace of many of these same 
institutions can be found in England. "What was their 
origin became to me an interesting question. New 
York, which was first settled, certainly did not derive 
them from 'New England, and JSTew England probably 
did not derive them from ISTew York. Could there have 
been a common fountain which fed both these streams, 
the debt to which has never been acknowledged ? Of 
course, the l^etherland Eepublic must have been this 
fountain, if one existed ; but to prove its existence, and 
the mode in which its influence was exerted on New 
England, required an examination far outside the rec- 
ords of New York. 

Hence a new set of questions arose before me, relating 
to the character and environment of the men who set- 
tled America, especially the Pilgrims who lived so many 
years in Holland, and the Puritans who flocked there in 
thousands during the reigns of Elizabeth and the first 
two Stuarts ; what civilization they had as Englishmen, 
what they saw and learned among the Dutch, and what 
they carried back to England and across the Atlantic. 
The importance of the latter questions can be seen at 
once. If I was correct in my hypothesis as to the debt 
which America owes to Holland — a debt incurred not 
only through New York, but also through the Pilgrims 
and Puritans of New England, and, as I afterwards dis- 
covered, through the Quakers of Pennsylvania — then 
our American history would occupy a different position 
from that usually accorded to it. Instead of standing 
alone as a phenomenon, to be studied by itself, or as a 


continuation of the record of Englishmen, to be studied 
on narrow insular lines, it would fill a much broader 
field, reaching back to Continental Europe, linking itself 
to the old civilization of the Romans, and forming more 
distinctly a part of that modern history which has been 
said to begin w^ith the call of Abraham. 

The pressure of professional labors prevented me for 
many years from devoting much time directly to this 
branch of study, but it was largely the occupation of 
my leisure. I was able to make two visits to Holland, 
and meanwhile a great mass of literature appeared throw- 
ing new light upon some of these questions. Finally, 
about six years ago, a permanent illness gave me an 
enforced rest, and I concluded to finish my history of 
I^ew York. After reading . over my old manuscript, I 
set out to write an extended introduction to the work, 
treating of the various settlers of America before they 
crossed the Atlantic, their civilization at home, the 
character of the institutions among which they were 
developed, and the connection of those institutions 
with the historic past. That introduction, as I ex- 
tended my investigations, has slowly grown into the 
present book. Its conclusions may seem novel to 
some readers ; but if true, they will stand despite their 

I have chosen as a title " The Puritan in Holland, 
England, and America," because the Puritan, who has 
done so much for the modern world, was not the prod- 
uct of any one race or country. He was born out of the 
uprising against the abuses of the Church of Rome. He 
came to maturity in upholding liberty against the as- 


saults of kingly power. In him was represented the 
principle of religious and civil freedom.* 

* I have used the word "Puritan " in this book, when applied to 
Englishmen (except when otherwise qualiiied), as it has been gener- 
ally used in history. It came into the language about 1564, shortly 
after Elizabeth ascended the throne. Fuller's " Church History," 
ix. 66. Its strict meaning changed from time to time, being some- 
times religious, with varying applications, and then again political, 
thus creating a confusion that has led to many historical blunders, 
but its popular signification has always been the same. See, for ex- 
ample, its emj)loyment by Shakespeare. Among the people of Eng- 
land at large the name came finally to be applied to all those who 
were religious and moral, and who, either by word or life, protested 
against the irreligion and immorality of the time. In Baxter's 
" Autobiography " we see illustrated the use of the word in the reign 
of Charles I. Baxter's family were called Puritans, although they 
were strict Conformists, or Episcopalians, because they never got 
drunk and went to church regularly. The people judged them 
rightly, for Baxter became a chaplain in Cromwell's army. Religion 
and morality revolted against authority as it was then represented 
by the Stuarts. Strictly speaking, as will be shown in its proper 
place, the name was confined to those Calvinistic members of the 
English Church who sought its reformation from within. These 
men formed the large majority of the settlers of New England. 
Those who left the church were called Brownists, Separatists, or 
Independents, and from them came the Pilgrim Fathers who settled 
Plymouth. The name Puritan, however, was not confined to Eng- 
land, nor have I given it any such narrow limitation. In 1587, Lord 
Buckhurst visited Holland as the representative of Queen Elizabeth. 
He reported of the people of the Provinces that they consisted " of 
divers parts and professions, as, namely, Protestants, Puritans, Ana- 
baptists, and Spanish hearts." Buckhurst to the Queen, May 27th, 
1587 ; Motley's " United Netherlands," ii. 123. See also Motley's 
" Barneveld," ii. 119, 284, 285. 


The armed contest began in Holland, and lasted there 
for eighty years before it was transferred to England. 
In its early days, nearly a hundred thousand Nether- 
landers, driven from their homes by persecution, found 
an asylum on British soil. Throughout it was a Puri- 
tan warfare. The Earl of Leicester, sent by Elizabeth to 
aid the rebellious Netherlands, was politically in sym- 
pathy with the English Puritans. The grandfathers 
and fathers of the men who fought w^ith Cromwell at 
Naseby and Dunbar received their military training 
under William of Orange and his son. Prince Maurice. 
Thousands upon thousands of them, during a period of 
some seventy years, served in the armies of' the Dutch 
Republic. Many others, driven out of England by Eliz- 
abeth and her successors, settled in Holland, and a still 
larger number went there for business purposes, engag- 
ing in trade and manufactures, while keeping in close 
relations with their native land. Some of the refugees, 
after a residence of years among the Puritans of the 
Netherlands, emigrated to America ; others returned to 
England, and took up arms under the Long Parliament.* 

* Fairfax, Essex, Monk, Warwick, Bedford, Skippon, and many- 
others — in fact, the men who organized the Parliamentary army — re- 
ceived their military training in the Low Countries. " The Fight- 
ing Veres," by Clements Robert Markliam, p. 456. The famous Iron- 
sides of Cromwell were trained by Colonel Dalbier, a Hollander, and 
the same officer did a mucli more important work by giving Crom- 
well his first instruction in the military art, teaching him, as Carlyle 
says, "the mechanical part of soldiering." Carlyle's "Cromwell," i. 
193 (ed. Wiley & Putnam, 1845). The first judge advocate of the 
Parliament's army was also a Hollander, Dr. Dorislaus. Idem, p. 231. 


The Englishmen, very many thousands in number, 
who found a temporary home in Holland were the 
most active and enterprising of their race. They went 
from a monarchy, where the power of the crown over 
many questions of Church and State was unlimited, to a 
republic, where the people for centuries had been accus- 
tomed to self-rule. They went from a land where, from 
natural causes, material and intellectual progress had 
been much retarded to one which, in almost every de- 
partment of human endeavor, was then the instructor 
of the world. That they must have learned much, apart 
from the art of war, and that they must have communi- 
cated much to England, seems apparent at a glance to 
any one conversant with the situation. And yet we 
shall search through English histories in vain for any 
but the slightest allusions to the effects of this foreign 

Important as this subject is to Englishmen who care 
for the truth of history, to Americans it is still more 
important. In England, after the restoration of the 
Stuarts, the influence of the I^etherland Eepublic, great 
as it was for a time, seemed to be almost lost. It was 
not lost, in fact, any more than are those streams which 
suddenly disappear beneath the surface of the earth, 
only to break out in what appear new fountains farther 
on their course. In America, however, there was noth- 
ing to cause even such a temporary disappearance. The 
Pilgrims who settled Plymouth had lived twelve years 
in Holland. The Puritans who settled Massachusetts 
had all their lives been exposed to a Netherland influ- 
ence, and some of their leaders had also lived in Hoi- 


land. Thomas Hooker, coining from Holland, gave life 
to Connecticut, which has been well called the typical 
American commonwealth. Eoger Williams, who found- 
ed Khode Island, was so much of a Dutch scholar tliat 
he read Dutch books to the poet Milton. Penn, who 
founded Pennsylvania, was half a Dutchman. New 
York and New Jersey were settled by the Dutch "West 
India Company. Here, then, we might expect to hnd 
traces of the influence of the great Netherland Repub- 
lic even more marked than in tlie case of England. 

And how have the historians of America dealt with 
this subject ? Here is a country which was settled by 
men of diverse nationalities. It has always been cos- 
mopolitan. Its institutions differ radically from those 
of England. The modes of thought of its people are 
not English. The two countries are, in some respects, 
drawing together to-day, but this is simply because Eng- 
land is adopting ideas like our own, and coming tow- 
ards our republican institutions. Despite all these facts, 
known to every American, we are continually told that 
we are an English people, with English institutions ; and 
all American history has been written upon that theory. 
Scarcely an attempt is made to trace out the cause of 
the manifest differences between the two countries, by 
looking at the institutions and modes of thought of the 
other nations which influenced our early settlers, and 
contributed so largely to our population. Our descend- 
ants will probably view the result somewhat as we re- 
gard most of the classical histories of a century ago. 

Such is the mode in which American history has 
been written. Why it has been so written is an inter- 


esting question, the answer to which is, however, very 

In the first place, its authors have been almost exclu- 
sively Englishmen, or descendants of Englishmen, living 
in New England. Wow the English have never been 
wanting in that appreciation of themselves which has 
characterized all the master races of the world.* This 
trait of character has played no small part in the devel- 
opment of their world-wide empire, the education which 
has taught them to believe in their natural superiority 
over men of other nations having largely aided to fit 
them for great actions. In addition, it has led to their 
recording every achievement of an Englishman, and 
thus to the completeness of their chronicles, and the 
unexampled mass of their literature relating to English- 
men and English actions. 

But with its advantages there are some corresponding 
disadvantages. One of their brilliant writers, who has 
lived for years upon the Continent, has well said, " The 
difficulty with which the English can be brought to 
respect the French can be partly explicable by their 
difficulty in respecting foreigners in general, unless they 

* The Venetian traveller wbo wrote tlie " Relation of England," 
in 1500, nearly four centuries ago, says : " The English are great 
lovers of themselves and of everything belonging to them. They 
think that there are no other men than themselves, and no other 
world but England ; and whenever they see a handsome foreigner 
they say he looks like an Englishman, and it is a great pity he should 
not be an Englishman; and whenever they partake of any delicacy 
with a foreigner they ask him whether such a thing is made in his 
country." Printed by the Camden Society. 

xxxii PREFACE 

have been, dead for a long time, like Homer and Virgil, 
or are invested with a sacred character, like Moses and 
Isaiah," * 'No reader needs to be told that this attitude 
towards foreigners is not peculiar to Englishmen, even 
among modern nations, although, as exhibited by them, 
it may seem at times a trifle emphasized. Still, how- 
ever conducive to the greatness of a people, and whether 
found in Greece, Eome, France, England, or America, it 
does not conduce to the writing of full and accurate his- 
tories, which must, of necessity, deal with the affairs of 
other nations.f 

* Philip Gilbert Hamerton, " French and English," Atlantic 
Monthly^ July, 1886, p. 22. Lecky speaks of " that hatred of for- 
eigners so deeply rooted in the English mind, and which has played 
a part that can hardly be exaggerated in English history, '' England 
in the Eighteenth Century," Amer. ed., pp. 1-19. See also opinion of 
the Duo de Sully, in 1603, Motley's " United Netherlands," iv. 156. 

t How foreign history is generally regarded in England, even at 
the present day, is well illustrated by the interesting discussion 
which was carried on there during the winter of 1885 and 1886, 
over the question, "What books shall we read?" Sir John Lub- 
bock, the eminent naturalist, opened with a list of one hundred 
books ; others followed, until most of the distinguished scholars of 
the kingdom had been heard from. The intention was to select one 
hundred works, the knowledge of whicli would make the best edu- 
cation for an Englishman. The range was wide ; the various lists 
covered the poetry, science, philosophy, and general literature of all 
nations. No fault could be found with them on that score; but it is 
very curious to see the way in which history was treated. Classical 
history — that is, the life and growth of dead nations — was fully rep- 
resented. The history of England also occupied a large space. But 
in all the lists only three allusions were made to the modern history 
of any people except the English. One authority recommended 


Here, then, in the fact that American history has 
been written mainly by Englishmen, or by men of Eng- 
lish descent, and entirely from an English standpoint, 
we find one natural explanation of its incompleteness — 
an incompleteness found in the history of every nation, 
when the author is moved more by a patriotic desire to 
cast a halo around his ancestors than to arrive at the 
exact truth.* But, apart from all this, there is some- 
thing more important and far-reaching which has affect- 
ed all the early writers about America who have shaped 
popular opinion. 

Comparatively few persons, perhaps, appreciate how 
recent a science is that of historical investigation. Less 
than a century and a half ago, Sir Eobert Walpole, lying 
upon his death-bed, and requesting a friend to read to 
him, was asked to select the book. " An^^thing but his- 
tory," he answered : " that must be false." The dying 
statesman, who for more than twenty years, as Prime 
Minister of England, had been making history, knew 

Carlyle's -works, whicb would include bis " Frederick the Great " 
and " French Revolution ;" and the head master at Eton recom- 
mended Tliiers's " Consulate and Empire." See the lists, Westmin- 
ster Retieic, July, 1886, p. 99, " What and How to Read." 

* English writers are keen enough in the appreciation of this fail- 
ing in their American cousins. Sir Henry Maine, in his last work, 
speaks of " tlie nauseous grandiloquence of the American panegyr- 
ical historiau," "Popular Government," p. 222. Doyle, in comment- 
ing on the writings of the early New England settlers, says: "We 
are reading not a history, but a hagiology."— " The English in Amer- 
ica. Tlie Puritans," by J. A. Doyle (the Longmans, Green, & Co., 
1887), i. 4. 



full well whereof he spoke. His criticism was some- 
what novel then, but the period since its utterance has 
made the sneer a maxim. In his time, to the common 
mind all history was alike : the legends of Livy and the 
personal observations of Tacitus, the gossip of Suetonius 
and Csesar's story of his own campaigns, all were equally 
true and equally sacred. To question them was well-nigh 
heresy. But to-day is the age of the iconoclasts. Under 
their blows our old idols are crumbling to powder. They 
dig up the musty records from which history has been 
made ; they search into the lives of the historians to find 
out what were their sources of information, and they seek 
further to find out why they wrote. True science is ex- 
act, for it is founded on laws which are immutable ; true 
poetry is immortal, for its breath is inspiration ; but his- 
tory is like the work of the photographer, it depends for 
its accuracy upon the material, the workman, the focus, 
and the atmosphere. 'No wonder if the scholar rises 
from his task to say with Walpole, as to much of it, that 
" it must be false." 

It was Yoltaire, as Buckle has pointed out, who first 
brought secular history to the bar of human reason. 
By attacking the early fables of Greece and Eome he. 
laid open the broad domains of the past to the fearless 
seekers after truth. "What they have done as to the 
classics is known to every schoolboy. We have seen a 
host of great scholars, led by the audacious Mebuhr, 
reconstructing Eoman history ; we* have seen another 
army sifting the grains of truth from the fairy tales of the 
Greek historians ; while, almost to-day, an indefatigable 
explorer exhumes the walls of ancient Troy, and shows 


to the world that Homer was no writer of mere ro- 

But it is not ancient history alone that our scholars 
are rearranging. Everywhere, in almost every land, 
they are delving among the records, getting at the truth 
of modern history. It is not easy to realize how diffi- 
cult this task has been until a recent date. Every one 
has heard of the French chronicler who was charged 
with treason by Eichelieu for having in his works told 
some distasteful truths about a king who, for two 
centuries, had slumbered in his grave. That, we say, 
was long ago. So were the actions of Louis XIY., who 
withdrew a pension from one historian for some imper- 
tinent remarks about taxation, kept Fenelon in banish- 
ment for a supposed criticism of his reign in the romance 
of " Telemachus," and threw another author into the 
Bastile for innocently revealing a state secret in a pan- 
egyric of himself. This was the custom of the age. 
Histories written under such auspices would hardly be 
entitled to much credit." 

But when this danger passed away, and in the last 
century historians could, in some lands, venture to tell 
the truth, the question arose, how the truth could be 
obtained. History, says Carlyle, is " ever more or less 
the written epitomized synopsis of rumor." It will, of 

* Hallam very wisely remarks that the invention of printing was 
at first detrimental to historical accuracy. "When men wrote books 
only for the use of tliemselves, their friends, or a limited circle of 
readers, they could tell what they understood to be the truth. When 
books came to be printed for general circulation, they could in most 
countries tell only what was agreeable to the authorities. 


course, as to many public events, be simply rumor run 
mad, unless corrected by official records, diplomatic 
correspondence, and other state papers which, until 
very recently, were regarded in all countries as the 
property of the monarch, and for reasons of state de= 
nied to the historian,* One can imagine the position of 
a writer who sat down to compose a work upon his own 
or any other country when such material was every- 
where kept a secret. 

The French Revolution, and the ideas which followed 
in its train, first developed the modern theory that offi- 
cial documents are for the public good, and that as to 
past events the public will be best served by being told 
the truth. How much has been brought to light since 
the archives of some of the old monarchies have been 
unlocked is a familiar story even to those acquainted 
only with the works of our own Prescott and Motley, 
who led the van in this department of investigation. 
But while France, Spain, Holland, and other countries 
have been aiding the historian, conservative England 
has been one of the last powers in Europe to open its 
records to the public, and even now has not done so 
fully. How this has affected American history can be 
readily understood. 

In 1841, John Romeyn Brodhead was sent to Eu- 

* This theory and practice still prevail at Rome. The pope has 
always beeu the depositary of valuable state secrets. It is well known 
that in the archives of the Vatican repose documents which would 
solve many historical problems of great interest. If they are ever 
thrown open to examination, numerous points in history will doubt- 
less have to be revised. 


rope by the State of l^ew York to procure copies of 
documents relating to its colonial history, from the 
public offices of England, France, and Holland. He 
went as an accredited agent from a friendly power, sup- 
ported by all the influence of the general government. 
It was known that the State Paper Office of England 
contained a mass of correspondence of the royal gov- 
ernors, minutes of the Board of Trade, and other docu- 
ments which would throw much light on early Ameri- 
can affairs. In Holland were supposed to be valuable 
papers relating to the Dutch period, and in France 
others connected with Canadian relations. Such proved 
to be the case, and in each of the latter countries the 
N^ew York agent was treated with the greatest courtesy. 
He was allowed to examine all the colonial records, was 
aided in every manner, and furnished with copies of 
such documents as he selected. 

In England he met with a very different reception. 
Lord Palmerston replied to his application to look over 
the colonial records by saying that if he would desig- 
nate the particular paper which he wished to see, it 
would be officially examined, and then, if there were 
no objection, he could obtain a copy at the customary 
rates. As Mr. Brodhead knew nothing of the docu- 
ments, and wished to look them over to find out which 
were valuable, this proposition of the noble Secretary 
was a virtual denial of his request. Thus matters stood 
for about a year, when a new Liberal ministry came into 
power. Under its regulations he was at length per- 
mitted to examine the original records, and was fur- 
nished with copies of such as he selected, although 


annoyed by petty harassing restrictions, and charged 
exorbitant fees. There the theory still existed that 
such papers formed part of the monarch's private li- 
brary, access to which could be obtained only through 
royal favor.* 

Lest some uncharitable reader might suppose that 
this was exceptional treatment, extended to an Ameri- 
can by his English cousins on account of their near re- 
lationship, let me cite another example. In 1844, C. M. 
Bavies, an Englishwoman, published the last volume of 
a valuable history of Holland. In preparing her work 
she desired to consult the correspondence of the Eng- 
lish ambassador at The Hague, from 1750 to 1780. 
This correspondence was kept in the same office with 
the papers relating to American affairs. The English- 
woman, less fortunate than the American, was not al- 
lowed to see the papers at all, and was compelled to 
send her book to press without their aid.f 

The mission of Mr. Brodhead to Europe accom- 
plished a great result. He brought back with him a 
large collection of documents relating to American his- 
tory, many of which never before had seen the light. 
Those in French and Dutch were translated, and in 
1856 the whole were published by the State in ten large 
volumes, entitled " Documents Relating to the Colonial 
History of New York." So far as public events are 
concerned, these are not rumors, but true material for 

* See report of Mr. Brodhead, "Documents Relating to the 
Colonial History of New York," vol. i. 
t Davies's " Holland/' iii. 607. 


history. Their importance can be appreciated when vre 
think of the material used by most historians before 
they were given to the world. In 1836, James Grahame, 
a Scotchman, published his "History of the United 
States," a pioneer work in Great Britain, and one which 
has been looked upon Avith considerable favor in ISTew 
England. The author tells in the Preface how his vol- 
umes were compiled. He evidently never visited Amer- 
ica, and never consulted an original document of any 
kind. He borrowed entirely from other books, mostly 
those published in ISTew England ; and even for them he 
had to go to Gottingen, in Germany, on account of the 
deficiencies of the British libraries.* 

"When Grahame wro'te his book, very few persons in 
England or America knew or cared anything about 
foreign nations or their history. Davies's volumes on 
Holland had not appeared, and those of Motley were 
not yet thought of by their author. In France the 
documents were just coming to light which, within the 
past few years, have caused French early history to be 
rewritten, showing the character of the Huguenots who 
formed so large an element of our American popula- 
tion.f It was at this same period that Bancroft wrote 
his first three volumes, which deal with our colonial 
history down to 1748.:}; Composed under such condi- 

* See Preface, " Grahame's History of the United States," vol, i. 

t See Baird's " Eise of the Huguenots in France," vol. i. Int. p. 5. 

{ Grahame's work was published in 1836 ; Bancroft's, vol. i. 1834; 
vol. ii. 1837 ; vol. iii. 1840. These closed the early period. Davies's 
" Holland," vol. i., appeared in 1841, the " New York Colonial Docu- 


tions, and from such material, one need not wonder at 
the character of our early American histories. Written 
only from an English standpoint, that of neglect of 
everything not Anglo-Saxon in its origin, they would 
naturally be incomplete ; but when we add the further 
fact that even the English material was largely inac- 
cessible to the historian, nothing in the result will cause 

In the half-century which has elapsed since the pub- 
lication of Bancroft's third volume, bringing American 
histor}^ down to 1748, great advances have been made 
in the science of historical investigation. In addition, 
numberless documents have been discovered, apart from 
those relating to JSTew York, w^iich illuminate the whole 
period of the settlement of America and the making of 
the republic. Motley, Froude, Ranke, Masson, Gardi- 
ner, and a host of others have not only thrown much 
new light on the condition of England in the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries, but they have shown in 
various ways the close relations w^hich existed between 
the English Puritans and their republican brethren in 
the [Netherlands — relations which were little thought 
of fifty years ago. It would seem to be impossible for 
an unprejudiced reader even to glance over this mod- 
ern historical literature without at least surmising that 

ments" and Motley's "Dutch Republic" in 1856. Bancroft used 
many documents which he obtained for himself in Europe, but it 
never seemed to have occurred to him that the Netherland Repub- 
lic might have exercised an influence on the early settlers of New 


America, which differs so widely from the mother coun- 
try, might show rational and historical reasons for being 
different. And yet, with floods of light pouring in from 
every quarter, and while scholars are rewriting the his- 
tory of almost every country on the globe, so powerful 
has been the current of popular opinion that the story 
of early Colonial America, in this particular, stands to- 
day substantially where Bancroft left it fifty years ago. 
The attempt is still made by the great majority of 
writers to trace everything American to an English 
source ; and when that search proves fruitless, resort is 
had to the inventive genius of the inspired first settlers, 
and to that alone. 

But, as I have already suggested, it is not American 
history alone which has suffered from ignoring the ex- 
istence of the ]N^etherland Republic, and its influence 
upon the modern world. 

Carlyle, in his Introduction to the "Letters and Speech- 
es of Cromwell," says : " One wishes there were a History 
of English Puritanism, the last of all our Heroisms ; but 
sees small prospect of such a thing at present. Few 
nobler Heroisms, at bottom perhaps no nobler Heroism 
ever transacted itself on this Earth ; and it lies as good 
as lost to us ; overwhelmed under such an avalanche of 
Human Stupidities as no Heroism before ever did. In- 
trinsically and extrinsically it may be considered inac- 
cessible to these generations. Intrinsically, the spiritual 
purport of it has become inconceivable, incredible to the 
modern mind. Extrinsically, the documents and records 
of it, scattered waste as a shoreless chaos, are not legi- 
ble. . . . The Rushworths, Whitlockes, liaisons, Thur- 


loes ; enormous folios, these and many others have been 
printed, and some of them again printed, but never yet 
edited — edited as you edit wagon-loads of broken bricks 
and dry mortar, simply by tumbling up the wagon." 

Many persons besides Carlyle have probably wished 
for a history of English Puritanism. But this Heroism, 
like that of the making of the United States, will re- 
main unexplained and unintelligible just so long as it is 
looked upon as a mere chapter of English history, and not 
as an outcome or continuation of that great Continental 
movement, intellectual and spiritual, which, in the six- 
teenth century, revolutionized the world. Neither can 
be understood, unless we recognize the true intellectual, 
moral, and religious condition of the English people, out 
of which their Puritanism, with all its faults and virtues, 
was evolved, and appreciate the influence which must 
have been exerted upon such a people by the close prox- 
imity of a republic the leader of the world by at least 
a century in agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, 
and by more than two centuries in all ideas relating to 
civil and religious liberty. 

To the American this appreciation should not be a 
task of difficulty if he enters upon the subject with a 
mind free of prejudice. He has seen how, in his own 
time, the existence of the American Republic has affect- 
ed the people of Central and South America, and how 
its influence has been exerted even across the ocean 
upon the nations of Continental Europe. He, therefore, 
of all others, should be capable of understanding how 
the Dutch Republic must have affected those heroic 
men in England and America who, in their newly 

PREFACE xliii 

awakened intellectual life, were trying to break the 
shackles of civil and religious tyranny. 

Writing the history of English Puritanism without 
any allusion to this influence is much like writing the 
early history of England without referring to the ideas 
brought in by the ISTorman conquerors, or a history of 
the Renaissance in Italy without mentioning the influ- 
ence of the classic authors of Greece. But in the case 
of America and its Puritans even these comparisons are 
inadequate. Another illustration will, perhaps, be more 

Let the reader imagine that Japan, instead of send- 
ing a few score of students to the United States, had 
sent over many thousand families, and had kept five 
or six thousand soldiers in our army for some forty 
years ; and that during the same period a hundred 
thousand Americans had settled in Japan itself. Im- 
agine, further, that at the end of the forty years a num- 
ber of the Japanese settlers in America had started out 
to found a colony in some newly discovered land, and 
that there had been added to their ranks a large num- 
ber of Americans and some twenty thousand other 
Japanese, some of whom had lived in America, and 
most of the others going from sections in which Amer- 
icans had been living for many years. These colonists 
found a mighty state, whose people speak Japanese, but 
have almost no Japanese institutions, having established 
a republic, and copied their institutions mainly from 
the United States. The writer who after two centuries 
should sit down to compose a history of this new re- 
public, and, omitting all reference to the United States, 


credit these settlers with the invention of their un- 
Japanese institutions, would be simply following the 
example of the English, and most of the American, 
authors who have written of America and her institu- 

The foregoing suggestions as to the influence of Hol- 
land upon England and America may appear strange to 
persons who have been accustomed to regard the Hol- 
landers as "stupid Dutchmen." Wasliington Irving 
burlesqued those who settled jN^ew York in a book 
which, although written in his boyish days, and in later 
years admitted by him to be a " coarse caricature," * fit- 
ted in with the English prejudice, and in some quarters 
has almost become accepted history. He depicted them 
as besotted with beer and narcotized by tobacco, ill- 
mannered, clownish, and objects only of ridicule. Many 
persons know nothing of them except from this travesty. 
"What a contrast is presented by the facts ! f 

* "Life of Irving," by his Nephew, i. 183. 

t In 1668, Colonel Francis Lovelace vprote from New York, in a 
private letter to King Charles II.: "I find some of these people 
have the breeding of courts, and I cannot conceive how such is ac- 
quired." Lamb's "History of the City of New York," i. 243. This 
letter was written sliortly after tlie province had passed from the 
dominion of the Dutch West India Company, which had been its 
owners for half a century. Tlie writer was an Englishman, the offi- 
cial representative of the Duke of York, the new proprietor. He had 
sailed up the Hudson to Esopus and Albany, remaining there a 
week; had explored Long Island ; had been fgted in the infant capi- 
tal; everywhere had seen the leading families; and after this exami- 
nation wrote his letter to the king. He evidently had met different 
people from those bred in the fertile imagination of Irving. 


Motley, the historian of the Netherlanders, himseK a 
New-Englander, says that they were "the most ener- 
getic and quick-witted people of the world." Guicciar- 
dini, an Italian, who lived among them for forty years, 
said, in 1563, of their inventive faculty : " They have a 
special and happy talent for the ready invention of all 
sorts of machines, ingenious and suitable for facilitating, 
shortening, and despatching everything they do, even in 
the matter of cooking." Here is the Yankee of Europe. 
Taine, a Frenchman, fully acquainted with English in- 
stitutions, says : " At this moment, 1609, Holland, on the 
sea and in the world, is what England was in the time 
of jSTapoleon. ^ * * Internally their government is as good 
as their external position is exalted. For the first time 
in the world, conscience is free and the rights of the 
citizens are respected. * * * In culture and instruction, as 
well as in the arts of organization and government, the 
Dutch are two centuries ahead of the rest of Europe."* 
It must now be remembered by the reader that when 
America was settled the N'etherland Kepublic was a 
great power in Europe, with a population about as large 
as that of England, and one incomparably wealthier. 

When aU this was unthought of, and when original 
documents were inaccessible, historians were hardly 
blameworthy who ignored the influence of Holland 
upon England and America. But now no such excuse 
exists. To history the words of Joubert are particularly 
applicable : " Ignorance, which in matters of morals ex- 

* "Art in the Netherlands," Durand's translation, pp. 166, 169, 


tenuates the crime, is itself in matters of literature a 
crime of the first order." Of this there can be no ques- 
tion when a writer has the material for obtaining a 
knowledge of the truth. Of course, if he has the 
knowledge and conceals it, he is outside the literary- 

So much for the Dutch Puritans, and for the mode in 
which the historians of England and America have dealt 
with them. But their 'New England brethren have, in 
some respects, been equally unfortunate ; not that they 
have been overlooked, but by some persons wofully mis- 
understood, if not wilfully misrepresented. 

A leading literary journal of England, not many years 
ago, contained the following estimate of their character : 
" The savage brutality of the American Puritans, truth- 
fully told, would afford one of the most significant and 
profitable lessons that history could teach. Champions 
of liberty, but merciless and unprincipled tyrants ; fugi- 
tives from persecution, but the most senseless and reck- 
less of persecutors; claimants of an enlightened religion, 
but the last upholders of the cruel and ignorant creed of 
the witch doctors ; whining over the ferocity of the In- 
dian, yet outdoing that ferocity a hundredfold ; com- 
plaining of his treachery, yet, as their descendants have 
been to this day, treacherous, with a deliberate indiffer- 
ence to plighted faith such as the Indians have seldom 
shown — the ancestors of the heroes of the Revolutionary 
and of the Civil War might be held up as examples of 
the power of a Calvinistic religion and a bigoted repub- 
licanism to demoralize fair average specimens of a race 
which, under better influences, has shown itself the least 


cruel, least treacherous, least tyrannical of the master 
races of the world." * 

This is a strong indictment drawn by our British 
cousins, whose opinions some of us are accustomed to 
hold in high respect when other people feel their lash. 
But whatever its source, it, without question, only 
slightly exaggerates the estimate of the New England 
Puritans held by a large number of persons, both in 
Europe and in the United States. Whether this esti- 
mate is correct or not is a question forced on every one 
who cares for the truth of history ; and from some 
points of view the question is to-day of practical im- 

One mode of meeting such charges is to deny, con- 
ceal, or gloss over the facts. How this is done can be 
seen by consulting some of the histories of ISTew Eng- 
land, where many of the acts of intolerance and cruelty 
of the early Puritans are concealed, and others are soft- 
ened down to a few trifling peccadillos.f Of course, 
when the writer of such books is confronted with the 
records, he has no refuge except in silence. This will 
not answer. We cannot, by closing our eyes, seal the 
records to the world. The story which they tell is very 
dark, especially as to the Quakers and the Indians. It 
is almost pitiable to see the attempt at its emasculation 
by writers who, while trying to praise, seem to feel 

* Tlie Saturday Review, Jan. 29tli, 1881. 

t All tlie histories are not, however, of this character. That of 
Hildreth is a notable exception, but it is little read. So, also, is 
"The Emancipation of Massachusetts," by Brooks Adams. 


ashamed of their ancestors. I have sometiraes tried to 
imagine to myself the effect produced among their de- 
scendants if these same ancestors could for a brief time 
return to earth, and be invested with their old authori- 
ty. Think of them reading our histories, or at a New 
England dinner listening to speeches which ascribe to 
them the virtues which they abhorred, at a sacrifice of 
those which they held in special honor. Rude and un- 
civilized enough they were in many things, but they 
trained up their children to tell the truth and respect 
their parents. 

Such a mode of dealing with the question is not good 
for the living, nor just to the dead. The truth is al- 
ways best. In this case it will vindicate Puritanism if 
the whole of it is told. 

The essence of the charge made by the Saturday Re- 
view— ^n^ this publication, always unfriendly to every- 
thing American, is quoted simply because it is the rep- 
resentative of a large class of critics — is that Puritanism 
was responsible for the actions of some of the New Eng- 
land settlers ; that is to say, they were intolerant and 
sometimes cruel, because they were Calvinists in religion 
and republicans in politics. But investigation will show 
that in this, the vital, the enduring question of the con- 
troversy, the facts of historj^ do not bear out the charge. 
In support of this position, there are two entirely distinct 
lines of argument, each of itself conclusive. 

The first deals with the Puritans of Holland. They 
were, like their New England brethren, Calvinists and 
republicans. They sealed their devotion to the faith by 
carrying through a war unparalleled in the history of 


arms, and founding a republic which endured for over 
two centuries. No one who knows their history can 
question their zeal as Calvinists or their love of liberty 
as men; but neither at home nor in America do we 
find them, with their long training in self-government, 
exhibiting the traits of character which are charged to 
Puritanism in Ne^v England. This alone ought to set- 
tle the question forever. It shows that, whatever else 
may have been the cause, the faults of our New Eng- 
land ancestors are not chargeable to their theological 
tenets or their love for republican institutions. 

The second line of argument is broader in its scope. 
Admitting all that can be said in truth about the New 
England Puritans, yet it can be shown from the rec- 
ords of England that their actions were simply those 
of the Anglo-Saxon race ; that, on the whole, its Amer- 
ican representatives were far in advance of the men 
who remained at home, and much earlier freed them- 
selves from superstition and intolerance. In other 
words, that it was not the Puritan, but the Englishman, 
who perpetrated the offences against humanity which 
want of knowledge charges to popular government and 
a Calvinistic faith. 

Thanks to the progress made in historical investiga- 
tion during the past quarter of a century, the proofs for 
the establishment of this position are overwhelmingly 
abundant. They will not be found in the ordinary 
school histories, nor collected in any English book. Still 
the records are there, and they are supplemented by the 
observations of keen-eyed foreigners from all quarters, 

whose notes and comments have been brought to light 


in the last few years. In the general rewriting of Eu- 
ropean history, now in progress, founded not only on 
new material, but on new modes of investigation, some 
chapters in that of England will have to be revised, at 
least for the American reader. Enough, however, has 
been already done to dispose of the illusion of the 
"good old times" when the Puritan came into exist- 
ence. The brilliant fictions woven by the poet and the 
novelist about the Elizabethan age may make the next 
period of stern reality, in which the Puritan came into 
authority, seem harsh and forbidding ; but when the 
light of truth is turned upon those early days, and we 
see them as they appeared to men living at that time, 
we shall begin to understand what the modern world 
owes to English Puritanism, with all its excesses and 

It is in this mode of treatment, not by conceahng 
their faults, but by telling the whole truth, and compar- 
ing them with their countrymen at home, who had not 
even the excuse of their intense convictions, that we 
should seek the vindication of the ISTew England Puri- 
tans. Were they alive, they would approve of this 
course themselves. They asked for no false reputations 
when on earth. They were great enough, and have 
done enough for humanity, to stand forth and, like 
Cromwell, be painted without the concealment of a de- 
fect or the exaggeration of a virtue. In some direc- 
tions they had not travelled very far. They had but 
faint ideas of civil or religious liberty, as we understand 
them after two centuries and a half of substantial self- 
government, or even as they were understood among 


the republicans of Holland, who had long before started 
on the journey. But Ave should remember that men 
must first get liberty for themselves before they think 
of it for others. The homeless man has little scope for 
hospitality. Broad conceptions of liberty come very 
slowly to maturity. These settlers sprang from a race 
which for generations had lived under the despotism of 
the Tudors and the Stuarts. Their first idea was to 
build a home for their own shelter, and to secure the 
rights whose value they had only begun to realize. 
While this work was going on there would naturally, 
save in rare and exceptional natures, be but little 
thought of others; but when self - protection was as- 
sured, when his own home was finished, the Puritan 
never sat down to selfish ease, regardless of the hun- 
gry and the houseless. 

This work I have intended mainly as an introduction 
to American history, although it may also serve in 
some measure as an introduction to modern English 
history, in which Puritanism has played a leading part. 
My principal design has been to show the nature of the 
influences which shaped the character of the people of 
Holland and England when the early settlers of Amer- 
ica left their homes, to trace the origin of the ideas and 
institutions which these settlers brought with them 
across the ocean, and to explain the mode in which 
they have worked into our present constitutional sys- 

In following out this scheme, an introductory chapter 
points out the present differences between England and 
the United States — differences of the most marked char- 


acter, extending to a wide range of subjects of great im- 
portance. The subsequent chapters relate to the history 
of Holland and England, their comparative civilization 
when America was settled, the institutions which each 
country had developed, the growth of their Puritanism, 
and the influence exerted upon England and America 
by the Dutch Eepublic. In the chapters relating to 
England an attempt is also made, while tracing the de- 
velopment of Puritanism in that country, to show the 
origin of its peculiarities which have excited so much ad- 
verse criticism. These peculiarities are shown, in the 
light of modern research, to be due simply to the con 
ditions under which it was developed among the Eng 
lish people. In the discussion of this subject, as I can 
foresee, the inherited illusions of some of my readers 
may be unpleasantly disturbed, although it is difficult 
for me personally to understand a reluctance to know, 
ing the truth about one's ancestors. This perhaps arises 
from the fact that, Avhile some of mine were among the 
Pilgrim Fathers, others came from a race the recent 
savagery of which is admitted with perfect frankness by 
all English writers. But New-Englanders, like Scotch^ 
men, and like their English brethren, may take such 
pride in what their countrymen have accomplished since 
the days of the Stuarts that they can afford to do away 
with fiction. Knowing the truth, one can judge whether 
the world has retrograded or advanced with the develop- 
ment of liberal institutions, and perhaps can draw some 
useful lessons for the future. 

It does not fall within the scope of the present work 
to follow the settlers of America into their new home, 



except so far as to describe some of their leading insti- 
tutions, and to show how the much-criticised treatment 
of the Baptists, the Quakers, and the witches by the 
Puritans of New England compared with that to which 
the same classes were subjected in the mother country. 
Hereafter, if the patience of the public be not exhausted, 
I may attempt to show what was accomplished directly 
for America by the men from republican Holland who 
settled the cotony of New York. 

In now closing this somewhat extended preface, a few 
words must be added in acknowledgment of the assist- 
ance which has been rendered me by others. 

In the first place, to my many friends of the Century 
Club of New York, where a considerable part of my 
investigations have been carried on, my thanks are due 
for suggestions, references to books, and information on 
special subjects, which have all been of the greatest 
value. Apart from these general contributions, I am in 
this country chiefly indebted to the Eev. Dr. Charles A. 
Briggs, of the Union Theological Seminary, New York ; 
Prof. C. C. Langdell, of the Harvard Law School ; Prof. 
A. M. Wheeler, of Yale CoUege; Mr. and Mrs. William 
C. Brownell, of New York — all of whom have read 
parts of my manuscript — and to the Rev. Henry 
U. Swinnerton, of Cherry Valley, who has read the 
whole ; the latter four making many valuable sugges- 
tions. None of these scholars are responsible for the 
defects of my book or for any of my conclusions ; but 
for their scholarly offices so generously extended I de- 
sire to express my grateful acknowledgments. 

In another quarter my obhgations are of a different 


character. Since illness has interrupted my personal 
investigations in Holland, I have been compelled to do 
this work from across an ocean, relying entirely on 
foreign aid. This, however, has been so lavishly extend- 
ed that probably I should have accomplished nothing 
more, perhaps even less, in attempting to carry on my 
further researches in person, unless I had settled down 
in the country for a residence of 3^ears. For this aid 
my thanks are in the first place due to my old class- 
mate of thirty-one years ago at Union College, the 
Hon. Samuel K. Thayer, now the United States Minister 
at The Hague. E'ot only have he and his eificient private 
secretaries furnished me with copies of many valuable 
documents from the archives of the Netherlands which 
I felt confident existed there, and which never before 
had been given to the American public, but he has en- 
listed in my behalf some of the most distinguished 
scholars of the country. 

These scholars, who have a microscopic acquaintance 
with the history of their own land which every student 
may well envy, have rendered me invaluable assistance 
in the solution of problems connected with their ancient 
republican institutions, some of which have disappeared 
in modern days. How much I am indebted to them 
only the historical investigator can appreciate who 
knows what it is to hunt for days or weeks through 
musty records or worm-eaten volumes often for a single 
fact. The kindness extended to me has not been ex- 
ceptional, for the scholars of the l^etherlands are world- 
famous for the liberality with which they impart their 
knowledge — a liberality of which every American who 


has ever applied to them has had ample proof. Still, I 
appreciate it none the less. When I owe a debt to so 
many, it may perhaps seem invidious to make an}^ dis- 
tinction ; yet it is but fair to say that my chief acknowl- 
edgments are due to the late Dr. M. F. A. G. Campbell, 
Librarian of the Koyal Library at The Hague ; Dr. P. 
J. Blok, Professor of History at the University of Gron- 
ingen; and Dr. F. G. Slothouwer, Professor of History 
at the Latin School of Leeuwarden, in Friesland. 

January, 1892. 


A new edition of this work having been called for, 
the author has made a few small changes in the original 
text, which have been kindly suggested by Mr. Justin 
Winsor, Librarian of Harvard University ; Mr. Andrew 
S. Draper, late Superintendent of Public Instruction 
in New York; Mr. S. E. Yan Campen, an American 
scholar, resident in London, engaged in Dutch researches; 
and Mr. Burton N. Harrison, of New York. 

Cherry Valley, K Y., August, 1893. 


For this edition I have made a few shght changes, 
most of which have been suggested by kindly critics 
in tliis country and in Europe, to all of whom I desire 
to express my thanks. The corrections are mainly of a 
slight order, not affecting the general argument of the 

Cherry Valley, N. Y., JDec. 1th, 1892. 


A fourth edition of this work has been called for 
earlier than the author expected. For this edition a 
few more corrections have been made, of the same char- 
acter as those appearing in former editions. The work 
has now been six months before the public. It has been 
noticed or reviewed in about two hundred magazines 
and papers in America, Holland, and England — some 
few of its critics have differed from the author's con- 
clusions, but it has been a source of gratification to him 
to find that they have pointed out no essential error in 
his narrative. For its cordial reception he wishes to ex- 
press his warm thanks to the public. 

Cherry Valley, N. Y., Jan. 10<7«, 1893. 






Most American authors, and all Englishmen who have 
written of America, set out with the theory that the 
people of the United States are an English race, and 
that their institutions, when not original, are derived 
from England. These assumptions underlie all Ameri- 
can histories, and they have come to be so generally 
accepted that to question them seems almost to savor 
of temerity. Perhaps, however, the temerity is only 
in the seeming. Hans Christian Andersen, in one of 
his charming tales, describes a royal court all of whose 
members believed that the emperor was arrayed in price- 
less garments from a magic loom, until he showed him- 
self unclothed in the public street, and a little urchin 
blabbed the truth. Then every one perceived that the 
magic garments had no existence except in their imag- 
inations. And so, when men and nations reach the 
stage in their development where they use their own 
eyes instead of echoing the thoughts of others, popular 
delusions often vanish before a breath. 
I— 1 


In history this process is rapidly going on. The dis- 
covery of new facts from year to year shatters the idols 
of centuries, rehabilitates injured reputations, and throws 
light on disputed or obscure questions ; but, what is of 
greater importance, the people of this generation are 
getting out of leading-strings, are seeing with their own 
eyes, and thinking for themselves. Thus subjecting even 
old facts to an original examination, regardless of prej- 
udice and untrammelled by convention, the history of all 
countries is assuming a new form. " Brains," says Ma- 
chiavelli, "are of three generations — those that under- 
stand for themselves, those that understand when another 
shows them, and those that understand neither of them- 
selves nor by the showing of another." The last, of 
course, are always hopeless, but the first class is rapidly 
increasing. To its members the history of America 
looked at only as an offshoot from England must al- 
ways seem incomplete and full of contradictions. To 
reconcile these apparent contradictions, fill out the rec- 
ord, and show the growth of the republic as a consistent 
whole, two facts should be given their proper place — that 
the population of America has always been largely cos- 
mopolitan, and that its institutions have been gathered 
from many quarters of the globe. 

Of course, if these propositions are correct, we must 
change the point of view to which we have been accus- 
tomed in the study of our early history. If it is true 
that our people and institutions come largely from other 
lands than England, it is important to see how these 
foreign races developed in their homes, and of still greater 
moment to learn the history, character, and workings of 
the institutions which are un-English in their origin. 
This is the only philosophic mode of treating history, 
and it is the only way in which it can be made of value. 


To begin with the settlement of Jamestown, or the land- 
ing of the Mayflower, is well enough if America is simply 
England transplanted across the sea. But if America is 
much more than a transplanted England, the case is very 
different. Then the neglect of the other nations which 
have contributed to its population and institutions leads 
to a result like that of writing a biography without 
referring to the subject's ancestors or describing his 
youth and education. 

How the idea that the Americans are purely an Eng- 
lish race has been developed is apparent at a glance. 
Englishmen, when in good humor, or "afraid we may 
do them a mischief," as Lowell says,* call us their kin 
across sea, American cousins, or children of the mother 
country, although always expressing surprise that the 
offspring bears so little resemblance to its fond parent.f 
On the other hand, Americans have done their part. 
Until a recent date, many of our writers seemed to think 
that England held the only stamp, for literary as well 
as social reputation ; and perhaps even now society has 
not a monopoly of the class whose members feel flat- 
tered at being mistaken for second-rate Englishmen. 
The mass of the people, however, have no such feeling. 
Independence has come, or at least is speedily coming, 
in thought as well as in political relations. This tiie 
future historian will notice as one of the most important 
results flowing from the great civil war, which first gave 
Americans assurance of the strength of the republic. 

Looking back, after the lapse of centuries, we see the 

* " Among My Books," p. 239. 

t " The American Philistine, however, is certainly far more differetit 
from his English brothers than I had before supposed." — Matthew Ar- 
nold, after his first visit to America. Nineteenth Century, Feb., 1885. 


effects produced upon Greece by the defeat of the Per- 
sian invaders, upon England by the annihilation of the 
Spanish Armada, and upon Holland by the victory over 
Spain. The results in America of a gigantic struggle 
for national existence, carried to a successful termination, 
will be no less far-reaching. We see them already in the 
marvellous development of the industrial pursuits of the 
country, in literature, science, and art ; and they will be 
still more marked in time. Not the least important, 
however — for it is connected with all the others — is the 
change of feeling in America regarding our relations to 
other countries, and especially to Great Britain. 

A few years ago, although we professed to care noth- 
ing for foreign opinion, the author of an American book 
waited with bated breath until he heard what the Eng- 
lish critics had to say about it, and our grandiloquent 
orators and editors never felt happy unless the traveller 
w^iom they patronized praised our "glorious institu- 
tions." " But to-day. our American authors, artists, archi- 
tects, scholars, and men of science no longer need to look 
abroad to secure a reputation. As for our institutions, 
they have stood the crucial test of war. It is to be 
hoped that we shall never undervalue their earnest crit- 
icism from any quarter, but the American has the feel- 
ing that in some respects he understands their nature 
better than a foreigner. Our revolution gave us political 
independence ; perhaps our civil war was needed to give 

* It was this feeling which led to the bitter resentment of the 
criticisms published by writers like Mrs. Trollope and Charles Dick- 
ens. Many of our people felt like lynching Mr. Dickens for his 
early remarks about America ; but a recent English traveller, Sir 
Lepel Griffin, has said things much more severe. Yet of him few 
Americans have even heard, and those who have read his book 
merely smile and think him entitled to his opinions. 


US intellectual independence as well. Gne thing is very 
clear : The time has passed for conjuring with the wand 
of British authority. America is no longer on her 
knees ; she has risen, and begins to look around her. 
'No wonder if she should now call in question some of 
the traditions about her pedigree. 

For the average Englishman who thinks of the Amer- 
icans as a pure Enghsh race there is great excuse. Of 
their country, until within the past few years, he knew 
comparatively nothing, except that the English language 
was spoken here, and that at one time some of the states 
were British colonies.* But with Americans the case is 

* One notable exception should be made, however, in this connec- 
tion. In a speech delivered in London on April 28th, 1887, Mr. Glad- 
stone said : " The institutions and progress of the United States have 
always been subjects of great interest to me, ever since, many years 
ago, I studied the life of Washington. I became then aware, first, 
of the magnitude of the destiny reserved for Americans, and, second, 
of the fact that the period of the birth of the American States was 
of more interest than any other it was possible to study. Whenever 
a youth, desirous of studying political life, consults me respecting a 
course of study in the field of history, I always refer him to tlie early 
history of America." — N. Y. Tribune^ April 27th, 1887. In a speech 
delivered at Chester, Oct. 26th, 1889, Mr. Gladstone urged the 
workingmen of England to study the history of the American Revo- 
lution. The system of government in America, he said, combined 
that love of freedom, respect for law, and desire for order which 
formed the surest elements of national excellence and greatness. It 
was no extravagance to say that, although there were only three mill- 
ion people in the thirteen states at the time of the Revolution, the 
group of statesmen that proceeded from them were a match for any 
in the whole history of the world, and were superior to those of any 
other one epoch.— iV. T. Tribune, Oct. 27th, 1889. Again, Mr. Glad- 
stone said, a little later : " I incline to think that the future of Amer- 
ica is of greater importance to Christendom at large than that of 
any other country." — North American Review, Dec, 1889. 


quite different. Many of tliem have visited Upper Can- 
ada and JSTova Scotia, which are settled by a race ahnost 
wholly British in its origin. I^o one can see these Cana- 
dians without being struck at once with the contrasts 
between them and the men he meets at home.* Still 
more of our people have within the past few years 
travelled in England. Certainly no intelligent Ameri- 
can can remain there long, talk with peasant, farmer, 
and country squire, listen to the conversation in cars, 
hotels, and shops, experiment with a humorous story on 
a party of Englishmen, go beneath the mere surface of 
dress and language, and study the people as he does 
those of the Continent, and then believe that we are of 
the same race, except as members of the same Aryan di- 
vision of the human family, with the same human nature. 
Identity of language is a great bond of union, and so 
is community of literature. But these, and especially 
the latter, may induce very erroneous conclusions when 
we come to deal with historical questions. Accustomed 
to read few modern foreign books except those written 
by English authors, it was very natural for our fathers 
to think only of their English blood. They found in the 
pages of the poet and the novelist of England their own 
natures depicted, and thence, perhaps hastily, concluded 
that they were one people with the writers. The fact 
is that human nature is essentially the same all the 
world over. We are not Hebrews because the Proverbs 
of Solomon are so applicable to us, nor French nor Ger- 
man, because Montaigne and Goethe tell us how we feel 
and think. The present generation is reading a host of 
books written b}^ foreigners, French, German, and Rus- 

* So tlie people of Australia are purely English in manner, modes 
of thought, etc. See Froude's " Oceana." 


sian, but everywhere we see a picture of the same human 
nature, if the books are true to life. 

Let us now glance at some of the facts, remembering 
that there were twelve states in the original Union, ex- 
clusive of Massachusetts, the maker of our histories and 
school-books. In 1759, the Kev. Mr. Burnaby, an Eng- 
lishman, visited America. Of the Northern colonies in 
general, he said that they "are composed of people of 
different religions and different languages." * In Penn- 
sylvania he found the most enterprising people of the 
continent. These, he noticed, consisted of several na- 
tions, who spoke several languages — " they are aliens in 
some respects to Great Britain." f In New York City 
he found that half of the inhabitants were Dutch ; of 
the population in general he remarked : " Being of dif- 
ferent nations, different languages, and different relig- 
ions, it is impossible to give them any precise or defi- 
nite character." A century before, a traveller reported 
that eighteen languages were spoken on Manhattan Isl- 
and. This was probably an exaggeration, but it had a 
broad basis of truth. How great was this original di- 
versity of origin is shown in the fact first pointed out 
by Governor Horatio Seymour : " Mne men prominent 
in the early history of ISTew York and of the Union rep- 
resent the same number of nationalities. Schuyler was 
of Holland, Herkimer of German, Jay of French, Liv- 
ingston of Scotch, Clinton of Irish, Morris of Welsh, 
and Hoffman of Swedish descent. Hamilton was born 
in one of the English "West India islands, and Baron 
Steuben, who became a citizen of New York after the 
Revolutionary War, was a Prussian." ■^ 

* " Burnaby's Travels," p. 201. t Idem, p. 109. 

X " History and Topography of New York : a Lecture," by Horatio 


No one acquainted with the barest outlines of Amer- 
ican history needs to be told about these men. Hamil- 
ton organized the government of the United States. He 
was the head of the Federalist party, and many per- 
sons think the greatest statesman that America has 
ever known. His influence on American thought and 
institutions was only equalled by that of Jefferson, 
who was the representative of Democracy almost pure 
and simple. These two men, more than all others, 
shaped the future of the United States; and yet the 
one, although a !N"ew- Yorker by adoption, was born 
of a Scotch father and a French mother, and the other, 
who was probably of Welsh and Scotch extraction, was 
French in all his feelings, having no English ideas.* 
Jefferson said, " Every man has two countries, his own 
and France ;" and it was from the writers of France 
that he drew the principles on which his political the- 
ories were based.f 

Of the other ISTew- Yorkers un-English in their extrac- 
tion, Jay was the first Chief Justice of the United States, 
Clinton was the great Northern founder of the Anti- 

* Like most of the Eevolutionary statesmen of Virginia, Jefferson 
came from what Lincoln has called the " plain people," and little is 
known with certainty about his pedigree. There is no proof, how- 
ever, tliat he was of English descent, and the family traditions are 
that his paternal ancestor came from Wales. In many of his char- 
acteristics he was certainly more of a Celt than an Anglo-Saxon. 
His mother was a RandoljDh, of a family claiming to be descended 
from the Scotch Earls of Murray. Parton's " Life of Jefferson ;°' 
Randall's " Life of Jefferson," i. 6, 7. 

t In view of these facts, one perhaps can understand why it was 
that, while Englishmen knew nothing of America, the first foreigner 
to attempt a criticism of its institutions was the Frenchman De 


Federalist (now the Democratic) party ; while the Mor- 
rises and Livingstons played leading parts in American 
affairs. These were the men who framed the Constitu- 
tion of New York, declared by John Adams to be excel- 
lent over all others. It is their state which first intro- 
duced the legal reforms which have revolutionized the 
procedure and methods of jurisprudence of America and 

But it was not Kew York alone that was affected by this 
intermixture of blood. Pennsylvania, which contributed 
largely to American institutions, Delaware, and 'New 
Jersey were settled by men of diverse nationalities, so 
that at the outbreak of the Revolution probably only a 
minority of their inhabitants were of English origin.* 
In addition, all through the other colonies were scat- 
tered large numbers of Scotch-Irish, French Huguenots, 
Germans, Irish, Scotch, "Welsh, and Swedes, counted as 
English, but essentially modifying the mass of the popu- 
lation and the national type.f 

English travellers constantly express surprise that the 
English race in America, as they are pleased to call us, 
should be so different from the same race at home. Here 

* " Life of Gonverneuv Morris," by Theodore Eoosevelt, p. 11. 

t Only tlie most careful study will enable one to approximate to 
any correct figures on this subject. In regard, to the Huguenots, the 
work has been begun in an admirable history by Baird of the 
"Huguenot Emigration to America," which unfortunately death has 
interrupted. The results of similar investigations as to other nation- 
alities would probably surprise the public. Especially is this the 
case as to the Scotch-Irish, whose history in America has never been 
attempted. In the last chapter of this work I shall have something 
to say about these men, showing what multitudes of them flocked 
through Pennsylvania and the Southern colonies before the Revo- 
lution, and what an important influence they exerted upon the fort- 
unes of their adopted country.. 


in America the people, looking at political and social 
questions, " see straight and think clear," according to 
Matthew Arnold, while on the other side of the Atlantic, 
as he saj^s, they certainly do not. This surprise will re- 
main just so long as the delusion exists that the Amer- 
icans are of pure English descent, and the influence of 
other nations upon them continues to be ov^looked. 
Let any reader apply the test, and inquire among his 
acquaintances. He will probably find very few who, 
being able to trace their ancestry back on its different 
sides for several generations, are of unmixed stock. 
English blood most of them will have, and they ought 
to prize it for its pluck and sturdy manliness ; but cross- 
ing this will be found, in almost every case, the blood 
of other nations with qualities that the English have 
never had.* 

* A great modern thinker thus expresses his opinion as to the 
ultimate effect upon America of this intermingling of nationalities, 
now going on more rapidly than ever : " From biological truths it 
may be inferred that the eventual mixture of the allied varieties of 
the Aryan race forming the population will produce a finer type of 
man than has hitherto existed, and a type of man more plastic, more 
adaptable, more capable of undergoing tlie modifications needed for 
complete social life. I think that whatever difliiculties they may 
have to surmount, and whatever tribulations they may have to pass 
through, the Americans may reasonably look forward to a time 
•when they will have produced a civilization grander than any the 
world has known." — " Herbert Spencer in America," p. 19. I trust 
that I may be pardoned for saying here, once for all, that my quota- 
tions like those from Mr. Gladstone and Herbert Spencer are not 
made for the purpose of exciting the vanity of a nation whicli in so 
many departments has as yet little to be proud of, but simply to 
show that even intelligent English observers notice the marked dif- 
ference between the people of America and those of the mother 
country. The sober-minded reader will draw his conclusions from 
the facts. 


Turning now from the question of race to that of 
institutions, a subject which some may think much 
more important, we reach a simpler field. Here is no 
room for conjecture or mere opinion. We have the in- 
stitutions of the two countries before us ; they can be 
compared by any one acquainted with them both, and the 
result speaks for itself. Instead of those of the United 
States being derived from England, it is a curious fact 
that, while we have in the main English social customs 
and traits of character, we have scarcely a legal or politi- 
cal institution of importance which is of English origin, 
and but few which have come to us by the way of 

The influence of institutions upon national character 
has been, perhaps, exaggerated by some writers; it cer- 
tainly has been underestimated by others. The French 
are inclined to the exaggeration, the English to the under- 
estimate. Of course institutions should be adapted to a 
people, just as a school should be adapted to a scholar's 
capacity. A tribe of savages would be benefited as little 
by a system of government borrowed from a civilized 
nation as a little child would be benefited by a post- 
graduate course at a college. All this is true enough, 
and in this is summed up much of what is meant when 
institutions are spoken of as a growth. But, on the other 
hand, as a child may develop into a scholar in one school 
who would have remained a dunce in another, simply on 
account of the difference in his teachers, so a people may 
make progress under one set of institutions, while with 
another set they would remain stationary. 

There were no horses upon the American continent 
until they were introduced by the Europeans. The 
horse, we are told, is an evolution, and perhaps in time 
might have been evolved in America, but his introduc- 


tion certainly has aided the development of the country. 
Institutions, likewise, are growths and not creations ; but 
when grown they bear transplanting, and will thrive if 
the soil is fertile and the climate genial. Thus trans- 
planted, they become most important factors in the evo- 
lution of society.* 

Before considering the subject of American institu- 
tions, there is one English institution of the greatest im- 
portance, utterly unknown in the United States, to 
which a few words may be well devoted. This is the 
State Church. To Americans familiar with the history 
and literature of England, this subject is so well known 

* Matthew Arnold was one of the English scholars who had been 
accustomed to undervalue the influence of institutions. A visit to 
America in 1884 modified his opinions. Upon returning home he 
wrote as follows : " I suppose I am not by nature disi^osed to think 
so much as most people do of institutions. The Americans think 
and talk very much of their ' institutions.' I am by nature inclined 
to call all this sort of thing machinery, and to regard rather men 
and their characters. But the more I saw of America the more I 
found myself led to treat ' institutions ' with increased respect. Un- 
til I went to the United States, I had never seen a people with in- 
stitutions which seemed expressly and thoroughly suited to it. I 
had not properly appreciated the benefits proceeding from this 
cause." — "Last Words about Anienca,'^'' Nineteenth Century, Feb., 
1885. Matthew Arnold, before coming to America, did not appar- 
ently share the views of his illustrious father. The latter says: 
" The immense variety of history makes it very possible for differ- 
ent persons to study it with different objects. But the great object, 
as I cannot but think, is that which most nearly touclies the inner 
life of civilized man — namely, the vicissitudes of institutions, social, 
political, and religious." — " Lectures on Modern History," Lecture 
IIL William C. Brownell, in his " French Traits," has an instruc- 
tive chapter on Democracy, in which he shows the importance at- 
tached by Frenchmen to the subject of institutions. " French 
Traits," Charles Scribner's Sons, 1889. 


that many persons are inclined to overlook the impor- 
tance of such an establishment in one country and of its 
absence from the other ; and yet there is no single in- 
stitution in England which in the last three centuries 
has exerted a greater influence in moulding the national 
character and in shaping the national thought than the 
Established Church, while nothing, perhaps, has been so 
important to the United States as the absence of this 

In England the Church is an adjunct of the State. 
It is supported by a tax, levied on every one, whether 
believing in its doctrines and attending its services or 
not. Its prelates are appointed by the crown, under 
the form of an election, which is, however, nothing but 
a form. Its ministers are not selected by their congre- 
gations, but are appointed by the State, or by private 
individuals who have inherited or purchased this priv- 
ilege, and who may be atheists or pagans. The influ- 
ence of this organization, as shown in English history, 
is too familiar to need more than a bare suggestion. 
During the reigns of Elizabeth and the Stuarts it was 
little but the handmaid of tyranny. Ever since that 
time it has been the consistent opponent of almost every 
reform. This is natural enough, for in England reforms 
have always been forced on a reluctant State, of whose 
machinery the Church has formed an important part. 
It has always been the bulwark of the aristocracy ; so 
that if one goes, the other will probably go with it. 
This, too, is natural enough, for its ministers depend for 
their bread upon the upper classes. Its organization 
extends over every square mile of English soil ; its rev- 
enues are enormous — some of its ministers enjoying 
princely incomes — and yet no Protestant Christian body 
has done so little, in comparison with its wealth and 


numbers, for the cause of religion or morality.* In late 
years it seems in some quarters to have developed a new 
spirit, so that its future is uncertain, but nothing can 
change the record of the past. 

This is not the place to discuss the question whether 
in all these matters the influence of the State Church 
of England has been well or ill directed. It has been 
claimed that it is an evil to educate the common people, 
or give them too much religious instruction. Such was 

* "Writing in 1850, one of the best informed of English observers 
said: " Here, where the aristocracy is richer and more powerful than 
that of any other country in the world, the poor are more depressed, 
more pauperized, moi'e numerous in comparison to the other classes, 
more irreligious, and very much worse educated than the poor of 
any other European nation, solely excepting Russia, Turkey, South 
Italy, Portugal, and Spain." — "Kay's Social Condition of the Eng- 
lish People," Amer. ed. p. 323. If any reader thinks that I have over- 
colored any statement in this chapter or elsewhere, regarding the 
condition of the poor in England, I ask him to consult this book. 
Mr. Joseph Kay was sent out by tlie Senate of Cambridge University 
to examine the comparative social condition of the poorer classes in 
the different countries of Europe. In 1850 lie gave to the world the 
results of liis investigations, extending over several years, in a work 
entitled "The Social Condition and Education of the People of Eng- 
land." Tlie cliapters on England, which have been reprinted sepa- 
rately in tlie United States, are made up from personal observations 
and official reports, and give evidence of an earnest desire on the 
part of the author to impress his countrymen with the gravity of 
their situation. The preface to the American edition of 1863 well 
says of these chapters : " They are a warning to us, and hence useful, 
althougli abounding in facts that are not agreeable, and of a descrip- 
tion that needs to be read only by men who have duties at the polls, 
and tliose few women who take an active part in raising or guard- 
ing our various institutions." See also John Foster's essay on 
" Popular Ignorance," and Booth's " In Darkest England," published 
in 1890. 


the theory of Queen Elizabeth and her successors. It 
may be that the political reforms opposed by the State 
Church were mistaken measures and will ultimately 
prove disastrous. It may have been wise to exclude 
Jews and Catholics from office, and to prevent any one 
from obtaining a liberal education at the great universi- 
ties unless he professed the faith of the State. It may 
be that a better class of ministers is obtained under the 
English system of appointment, where the office is said 
sometimes to be sold to the highest bidder, than under 
a system which permits the congregations to select their 
own ministers. All these claims may be well or ill 
founded ; the S3^stem may be the best or the worst ever 
devised by man, but it certainly is the most important of 
English institutions, except, perhaps, the aristocracy, to 
which it is allied, and it is unknoAvn in the United States. 
Several of the American colonies, following the ex- 
ample of England, established churches supported by 
the State. But the Revolution, which severed the re- 
lations between the colonies and the mother country, 
soon put an end to these establishments. Here 'New 
York took the lead. In its first Constitution, adopt- 
ed in 1777, a provision was inserted repealing and ab- 
rogating all such parts of the common law and all 
such statutes as could "be construed to establish or 
maintain any particular denomination of Christians 
or their ministers." '^ Virginia followed in 1785, and 
at later dates all the other old states in which the 
Church had been established did the same, except New 
Hampshire, concluding with Connecticut in 1818 and 
Massachusetts in 1833.t The new states which have 

* Constitution of 1777, sec. 35. 

t Scbaflf's " Churcli and State in tbe United States," p. 46. Some 


joined the Union since the adoption of the Federal Con- 
stitution have, without exception, followed the example 
of New York, and have by constitutional provision placed 
a complete separation between Church and State.* 

Here then, in the most important domain, that of re- 
ligion, we find the greatest possible difference between the 
two countries, a difference which may furnish much food 
for thought to those who believe that America has Eng- 
lish institutions. But when we pass to political matters, 
the differences are no less important and far-reaching. 

Beginning at the bottom, we find that our whole politi- 
cal system is founded on a basis entirely different from 
that of the " mother country," The theory of all our insti- 
tutions is summed up in the words of the Declaration of 
Independence, " All men are created equal." This has 
been called a " glittering generality." So it is, and so 
is the refulgent atmosphere in which we live, and the 
crystal ocean which girds the globe. Yet what air and 
water are to man, human equality is to the life of the 
republic. We need not the authority of Sir Henry 
Maine f for the statement that this doctrine comes from 
Roman jurisprudence, that it is not English, and that it 
is and ever has been unknown to English law, where 
the members of the noble order have alwa^^s enjoyed 
peculiar privileges, extending even to the courts of jus- 
tice. No one could persuade the Queen of Great Brit- 
ain and Empress of India that any of her subjects is by 

of the colonies had no established Cliurch, and so seemed to require 

no constitutional provision upon tlie subject. 

* See Poore's " Charters and Constitutions of the United States." 
t Maine's " Ancient Law," p. 91. " All men are equal," tlie most 

distinctive expression of the doctrine of Roman law. "The Early 

History of Institutions," Sir Henry Maine (Henry Holt, New York, 

1888), p. 330. 


birth her equal. Coming down the list to the pettiest 
baronet, the same feeling exists, and it is not confined 
to the class which claims superiority. The lower orders, 
as they call them — and this is, perhaps, the most demor- 
alizing feature of the system — share the sentiment, and 
look up to an earl and duke as a good Catholic looks up 
to a patron saint. So strange does all this caste spirit 
seem to an American that it is almost incomprehensible. 
It is one of the last things which travellers appreciate, 
but until they do so they will understand little of the 
English people, their institutions, or their history.'^ 

Ascending now from foundation to superstructure, we 
find as radical a contrast. The United States and all 
the separate states have written constitutions. The im- 
portance of these formal written instruments all Amer- 
icans appreciate, and even Englishmen are beginning to 
see their value. By them the powers of government 
are distributed among the executive and legislative de- 
partments, while above all sits the judiciary, not only 
to keep each department to its proper functions, but also 
to guard the rights of each individual citizen or stran- 
ger. These constitutions represent the will of the peo- 
ple, are superior to all congresses or legislatures, and can 
only be altered by the people, in such modes, as to time 
and majorities, as guarantee deliberation and a w^ide- 
spread settled feeling of a necessity for change.f 

* See "Aristocracy in England," by Adam Badeau, 1886, for a 
full study of this subject; Taine's "Notes on England;" Emerson's 
"English Traits," pp. 185, 305, ed. 1857. Says Matthew Arnold, 
" Inequality is our bane. * * * Aristocracy now sets up in our country 
a false ideal, which materializes our upper class, vulgarizes our mid- 
dle class, brutalizes our lower class." — Nineteenth Century^ Feb., 
1885, p. 233. 

t No change can be made in the Constitution of the United 


Of all this England knows nothing. Its so-called Con- 
stitution is a thing of tradition, sentiment, theory, ab- 
straction, anything except organic, supreme, settled law. 
What is constitutional to-day, to-morrow may become 
unconstitutional by the mere fiat of the British Parlia- 
ment, which, it has been said, can do anything except 
make a man a woman, or a woman a man. The courts 
construe the laws, but can neither protect one depart- 
ment of the government against another, nor the indi- 
vidual against the tyranny of the majority.* 

States until proposed by two thirds of both houses of Congress, and 
ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the states. In New 
York a constitutional amendment has to pass through two legisla- 
tures, and then be ratified by a popular vote. 

* "Parliament is, from a merely legal point of view, the absolute 
sovereign of the Britisli Empire." — "The Law of the Constitution," 
Dicey, p. 354. "In spite of appearances," said Mr. Frederic Harri- 
son, on the 1st of January, 1886, " and conventional formulas, habits, 
and fictions to the contrary, the House of Commons represents the 
most absolute autocracy ever set up by a great government since 
the French Revolution. Government here is now simply a commit- 
tee of that huge democratic club, the House of Commons, without 
any of the reserves of power in the other parts of the Constitution 
which are found in the constitutions of France and America." 
Quoted in "French and English," by Hamerton, Atlantic Monthly, 
Sept., 1886, p. 321. " The Constitution, being unwritten, provides no 
special safeguard against revolutionary reforms like those in Amer- 
ica and France." — Idem, p. 324. Says another recent English writer: 
" Our glorious Constitution, reduced to its simplest elements, con- 
sists merely of one unwritten article. If it were written, it would 
run : ' Tiie majority of the English electoral body, having proved 
themselves to be a majority after a fierce electoral fight, in which 
every personal ambition, every selfish interest, and every malignant 
passion has been let loose, may do exactly what they like, without 
let or hindrance, with the organization of English society and with the 
resources of the British Empire.' ^^ —National Review, Sept., 1886, p. 65. 


Here is a fundamental difference at the outset. 'Now 
let us look at particulars. The United States has a real 
executive, who is commander-in-chief of the armies, ap- 
points judges and subordinate executive officers with the 
approval of the Senate, has a substantial veto power, and 
holds office by election for a fixed term. England has 
two executives: one an hereditary figure-head, who holds 
levees, lays corner-stones, and leads, or is supposed to 
lead, society, being the supreme arbiter in questions of 
official etiquette ; the other is a committee of the House 
of Commons, called a Cabinet, which exercises all real 
executive power, although unauthorized by statute, with- 
out any check on its authority, but also without any 
settled term of office, being subject to be swept away at 
any moment by a gust of popular passion. 

Each country has two legislative houses, but the re- 
semblance goes no further. The upper house in Eng- 
land, in which members keep their seats for life, simply 
represents the aristocracy, which means land, and the 
Church, which means religious caste in politics. In the 
United States the Senate represents the separate states, 
each one, large or small, having an equal voice, while 
one third of its members changes each two years. In 
England the upper house has no substantive power, ex- 
cept that of obstruction, fitfully and feebly exercised 
under the terror of annihilation. In the United States 
the Senate is a real body with authority, helping to 
make laws and serving as a check on the executive. Its 
confirmation is necessary to the appointment of judges 
and all executive officers, except those of the lowest 
class, while no treaty is valid without its approbation. 
Again, it must unite with the House of Eepresentatives, 
before the President can make war or peace. ls"one of 
these powers belong to the House of Lords. They are 


all exercised by the Cabinet, a committee which is re- 
sponsible only to the passions and prejudices of the 
House of Commons. N'o wonder that Lord Salisbury 
said, in a recent speech : " The Americans, as you know, 
have a Senate. I wish we could institute it in this 
countr}^. Marvellous in efficiency and strength." * 

Our House of Eepresentatives is composed of members 
elected for two years, all of whom are paid. In England 
the members of the House of Commons receive no sal- 
aries, so that, unless supported, as in the case of some 
Irish members, by voluntary contributions, only the rich 
are reaUy eligible to office; and they may serve for a week 
or seven years, as the Cabinet shall determine, since it 
may order a new election at any time. 

Above all, in America, as I have said, above Presi- 
dent, Senate, and House of Eepresentatives sits the Su- 
preme Court to see that the Constitution, the ultimate 
organic will of the people, is preserved intact. Its judges 
are appointed by the President and confirmed by the 
Senate, but they hold office for life or good behavior.f 

* Of it Matthew Arnold remarks: "The United States Senate is 
perhaps of all the institutions of that country the most happily de- 
vised, the most successful in its workings." Goldwin Smith describes 
it as " first in average intelligence among all the political assemblies 
in the world." Nineteenth Century, June, 1888, p. 889. 

t Lord Salisbury, in a speech at Edinburgh on Nov. 23d, 1882, 
thus describes it: "I confess I do not often envy the United States, 
but there is one feature in tlieir institutions which appears to me 
the subject of the greatest envy, their magnificent institution of a 
Supreme Court. In the United States, if Parliament passes any 
measure inconsistent with the Constitution of the country, there ex- 
ists a court which will negative it at once, and that gives a stability 
to the institutions of the country which, under the system of vague 
and mysterious promises here, we look for in vain." Quoted " Car- 
negie's Triumphant Democracy," p. 369. Lord Salisbury evidently 


These features make up the peculiarities of the Amer- 
ican Federal system and differentiate it from other forms 
of government. All nations have an executive of some 
kind, most of them have judges and legislative bodies, 
so that in these general outlines there is nothing on 
which to base a theory of English origin. The question 
is whether our peculiar institutions, those distinctive of 
America, are derived from the "mother country." Of 
course. Englishmen knew nothing about the peculiari- 
ties of our Constitution, until, within the past few years, 
when they saw America looming up as an agricultural 
and manufacturing rival. Then a few of them began to 
look across the sea. Still later, greater attention has 
been given to the subject by Ireland's demand for Home 
Eule, based on something like the relations of our states 
to the general government. 

Assuming that our Federal institutions are English, 
it is quite remarkable to see how unfamiliar they appear 
to the statesmen and writers of their home, now that at 
length they have attracted notice. How a Tory Prime 
Minister regards the more important ones we have al- 
ready seen, Mr. Gladstone goes even further and says : 
" The American Constitution is, as far as I can see, the 
most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by 
the brain and purpose of man." * 

did not know liow constitutional questions are brought before our 
Supreme Court; but had he known, his admiration probaWy would 
have been increased. 

* Dicey, a writer on the English Constitution, says : " The plain 
truth is, that educated Englishmen are slowly learning that the Amer- 
ican Eepublic affords the best example of a conservative democracy; 
and, now that England is becoming democratic, respectable English- 
men are beginning to consider whether the Constitution of the Unit- 
ed States may not afford means by which, under new democratic 


Enorlisli writers who have looked into the institutions 
of America have naturally had their attention drawn to 
the Constitution of the United States, which deals only 
with national affairs. Seeing this instrument in all its 
completeness, and knowing little of the prior history of 
the separate states, they seem to conclude, as Mr, Glad- 
stone did, that it was struck off in 1787 by the brains of 
the few men who formed the convention at which it was 
put in shape. Their work was a great one, but the 
American knows that the United States had been living 
under state constitutions for over ten years prior to the 
Union, and that many of the salient features of the 
Federal Constitution were not novel. For their history 
and origin we must go far back of the immortal conven- 
tion of 1787. 

The Constitution of the United States was adopted in 
1787, but eleven years before that date the Federal Con- 
gress recommended to the thirteen colonies that they 
should proceed to form separate state constitutions. This 
was done by all of the thirteen, except Ehode Island and 
Connecticut, which preferred, for many years, to live 
under the form of government established by their co- 
lonial charters. To any one who desires to study the 
character and the development of American institutions 
these state constitutions, with their subsequent amend- 
ments, are, in some respects, much more important than 
the Federal Constitution. All of them have been mate- 

powers, maybe preserved the political conservatism dear and habit- 
ual to the governing class of England." These are the opinions of 
leading Englishmen, and they miglit be multiplied indefinitely. See 
Carnegie's "Triumphant Democracy," p. 501, etc. I wish here to 
make a general acknowledgment of the liberal use made of the 
valuable facts relating to this subject, and to some others, collected 
by Mr. Carnegie. 


rially modified since their first adoption ; in some the 
changes have been revolutionary, in all the tendency of 
the changes has been towards a common form approach- 
ing a democratic model. 

At the outset, however, the contrast between their 
different provisions was very marked. The original in- 
struments were framed by bodies of men of different 
nationalities, living at great distances apart from each 
other, and with varying views, the results of study, ex- 
perience, or inherited traits of character, as to the form 
of government and as to the institutions which were best 
fitted to their respective wants. Some provided for a 
State Church as in England, others prohibited its estab- 
lishment ; some gave religious liberty to all, others re- 
stricted it to Protestant believers in the Bible ; some pro- 
vided for voting by ballot, others for the English system 
of voting viva voce ; some provided for two legislative 
houses, others for only one ; some gave the governors 
great power, others hampered them with councils ; some 
carried provisions for the freedom of the press beyond 
anything ever known in England, others were satisfied 
with English guarantees ; some abolished primogeniture, 
others retained it undisturbed ; some provided for free 
schools, others left that subject to the Legislature ; some 
gave to prisoners accused of crime the privilege of ap- 
pearing by counsel, others remitted them to the tender 
mercies of the common law" ; some denounced the san- 
guinary criminal code of England, others made no allu- 
sion to the subject. 

These are but specimens of provisions in the original 
state constitutions, which show how divergent were the 
views of the men who framed these instruments upon 
many subjects of the first importance. Some of these 
provisions, as we shall see hereafter, were incorporated 


into the Federal Constitution, but others, having no re- 
lation to national affairs, have been left to bear fruit in 
different circles. But even these constitutions form but 
a small part of the evidence to be examined by one 
who wishes to discover the origin of American institu- 
tions. Back of them will be found a body of laws and 
customs, many of them entirely un-English in their char- 
acter, which, for more than a century before the Dec- 
laration of Independence, moulded the character of the 
people who then became a nation. 

If historians had devoted to the investigation of these 
subjects one tithe of the labor which has been given to 
tracing the influence of the Celts, the Eomans, the 
Anglo-Saxons, or the Kormans on Great Britain, we 
should hear little of the surprise now expressed at the 
fact that America differs so much from the mother 

Eeturning now to our general subject, and passing 
from those matters of organization which relate par- 
ticularly to the structure and machinery of the general 
government, let us glance at a broader field and con- 
sider some more important institutions, which may be 
likened to the material of which the building is con- 
structed. It will hardly be disputed that the laws and 
customs which, after those establishing religious and 
political equality, are most distinctive in the American 
system relate to the ownership of land, popular edu- 
cation, and local self-government. The relative impor- 
tance of these three subjects may be questioned by dif- 
ferent thinkers, but probably all will agree as to their 
combined influence. Taking them up in the order 
named, the question at present to be considered is how 
far America has, in these matters, patterned after Eng- 


First, then, as to land.* In England about half of the 
land is owned by one hundred and fifty persons. In 
Scotland half is owned by some seventy-five persons, 
while thirty-five own half of Ireland. Taking all Great 
Britain together, about four fifths of the profitable soil 
is owned by seven thousand individuals, and the other 
fifth by about one hundred thousand.f All the land of 
the United Kingdom amounts to about 77,000,000 acres ; 
of these some 46,000,000 are under cultivation, and the 
remainder is unproductive. Yet Great Britain imports 
half of her grain, while about one twentieth of her popu- 
lation, are paupers.:}: Were the great parks which are now 
kept for purposes of luxury or mere ostentation, and the 
vast uncultivated wastes which now only preserve game 
or serve as sheep pastures, divided up among little pro- 
prietors who would make every rood of ground available, 
England would hear much less of her labor question. 
As it is, however, everything for centuries has tended in 
the opposite direction. 

First stands the law of primogeniture, under which, in 
case of intestacy, all the real estate goes to the oldest 

* "The fact is," says a writer in tlie British Quarterly Eeview, 
"that the mode in whicli property, and especially land, is distributed 
has the chief influence in detennining the political and social char- 
acter of the people." Again he remarks : " Indeed, it may almost be 
said that land and aristocracy are in England convertible terms." 
British Quarterly Review, April, 1886, p. 279. 

t"Free Land," by Arthur Arnold (1880), cited Gneist's "His- 
tory of the Englisli Constitution," transl. London, 1886, ii. 376; 
also "France and Hereditary Monarchy," by John Bigelow, 1871, 
p. 53. 

X " Our National Resources, and How they are "Wasted," William 
Hoyle, pp. 40, 43; "Home Politics," Daniel Grant, p. 8, quoted by 
Bigelow, pp. 31-35 ; " In Darkest England," by William Booth. 


male heir, thus building up great families, l^ext stands 
the system relating to the transfer of land among the 
living, which clogs its alienation and renders its purchase 
by the poor almost impossible. 

Every American knows how simple is our system of 
recording deeds and mortgages. Under it, in ordinary- 
cases, any man of average intelligence can search his own 
title and make out his own conveyance, or can have it 
done in the country for about five dollars ; for, unless a 
deed or mortgage is recorded in the proper office of the 
county, it is of no avail against the later hona-Jide in- 
strument of an innocent party duly put on record. In 
England, except in some small sections of the country 
where this system has been latel}'^ introduced, nothing of 
this kind exists. All title-deeds are kept by the owner ; 
and unless a careful examination is made by a lawyer, 
there is no security for a purchaser whatever. In no 
other civilized country of the world do sales and mort- 
gages of land habitually take so long a time to transact, 
and nowhere else are the charges in the case of small 
properties so great.* 

Time and time again, from the days of Cromwell 
down, the attempt has been made to introduce the 
recording system which prevails in the United States 
and in most of the countries of the Continent, but al- 
ways without success. Parliamentary committees have 
recommended it, upon the ground that it would give in- 
creased security, and facilitate, by cheapening, the trans- 
fer of land. But there lay potent reasons for its rejec- 
tion. The large proprietors, representing the aristocratic 
element of society, have desired that the mode of acquir- 

* Westminster Review^ July, 1886, p. 80. The lowest legal charge 
is about thirty dollars. 


ing land should be neither easy nor cheap. Land is for 
aristocrats, and not for the common people. The result 
is that the great class of yeomen, the men who in by- 
gone centuries gave England her greatness, has almost 
entirely disappeared.'-^ In its place has grown up a race 
of peasants, well-nigh the most ignorant and brutalized 
among the so-called civilized peoples of the globe. 

Not content with refusing to sell land to the poor, and 
making its transfer difficult and expensive, the ruling 
classes have gone one step further. Formerly a large 
part of the soil of England was owned in common, each 
village or community holding its great tract open to all 
the inhabitants for purposes of pasturage. But since 
the beginning of the last century, 9,000,000 acres of 
these common lands, more than one eighth of the whole 
soil of Great Britain, have been taken possession of by 
private individuals and enclosed under acts of Parlia- 
ment.f It was in reference to this wholesale robbery 
of the poor that the well-known lines were written : 

" The law locks up the man or woman 
Who steals the goose from off the common, 
But lets the greater villain loose 
Who steals the common off the goose." 

In view of these facts, we can appreciate the words of 
one of England's keenest observers in speaking of the 
kaleidoscopic constitutions of France : " It does not re- 
quire any special clearness of vision to perceive that so 
far from having closed the era of great changes. Great 
Britain and Ireland have only entered on it," :{: 

* " Pauperism, its Causes and Remedies," Prof. Fawcett, p. 208. 

i- Prof Thorold Rogers, Time, March, 1890. 

X Philip Gilbert Hamerton, Atlantic Monthly, Sept., 1886, p. 323. 


One of these days England may awake to reap the 
whirlwind. She is now the only Teutonic nation, and 
perhaps the only civilized society in existence, in which 
the bulk of the land under cultivation is not owned by 
small proprietors.* To her laboring classes she is giv- 
ing not land, but the spelling-book and the ballot. 
Speaking of the arms of a slave state, which represented 
a negro asleep upon a cotton bale, "Wendell Phillips 
once asked, "But what will the people do when the negro 
wakes up ?" Our cousins across the sea can take a simi- 
lar question to heart. From time to time the English 
public are aroused to an appreciation of the filth and 
misery which pervade the dwellings of their poor. Then 
men rush into print with their various nostrums, emi- 
gration, vast schemes of private benevolence, new models 
for cottages, and the like ; but it seldom occurs to any of 
them to suggest a change in their land laws by which 
the poor man might own his dwelling. Nothing, how- 
ever, is so conducive to the self-respect, without which 
all sanitary regulations are powerless, as the possession 
of one's habitation.f 

Turn now from England to America, and what a dif- 

See also Gneist, " Hist, of English Constitution," ii. 452. Matthew 
Arnold says of the nobility and the property question : " One would 
wish, if one sets about wishing, for the extinction of titles after 
the death of tlie holders, and for the dispersion of property by a 
stringent law of bequest." — Nineteenth Century, Feb., 1885, p. 234. 

* British Quarterly Bevieic, April, 1886. 

t "The large domains are growing larger; the great estates are 
absorbing the small freeholds. In 1786, the soil of England was 
owned by 250,000 corporations and proprietors." — Emerson's " Eng- 
lish Traits," p. 184. A century earlier the number of those who farmed 
their own land was greater than the number of those who farmed 
the land of others. Macaulay, vol. i. chap. iii. 


ferent picture is presented! The census of 1880 shows 
that the farms in the United States number over four 
millions, of which only about twenty-five thousand con- 
tain more than a thousand acres. Of the whole number 
nearly three fourths are worked by the owners, and of 
the remainder, the larger part are worked on shares. 
In 1850, before slavery was abolished, the farms num- 
bered only about a million and a half, and they averaged 
two hundred and three acres each. In 1880, the average 
had sunk to one hundred and thirty-four acres, so that 
while the amount of cultivated land is largely on the 
increase, the process of subdivision is still more rapid. 
Practical experience here, as well as elsewhere, shows 
that small tracts of land are worked more economically 
than large ones, and are most productive when cultivated 
by the owner. The above figures take no account of 
mere city or village lots for building purposes. The 
number of these is very large, for, as the American 
knows, the laborer, except in the large cities, usually 
owns his own dwelling, and thus is a proprietor of the 
soil. The ownership of land always makes a man con- 
servative. When it is generally divided, as in the Unit- 
ed States, and where, under a liberal Homestead Law, 
any one can obtain a farm by actually putting it under 
cultivation, there will be found little room for theories 
of spoliation.* 

* The census of 1890 shows only about 73,000 paupers in the poor- 
houses of the United States, out of a population of over 62,000,000, 
a rehxtive decrease since 1880. About 6000 of those are colored, and 
of tlie whites tliree fifths are foreign-born or of foreign parentage. 
Of the poor permanently supported in their own houses or in pri- 
vate families, only some 24,000 are given, but in this case the returns 
do not pretend to even approximate correctness. Census Bulletin 
No. 90, July 8, 1891. 


Such is the difference between England and America 
as to the distribution of land. Speaking of this subject, 
Daniel Webster summed up the case in his great speech 
at Plymouth, when he said of the ISTew England settlers 
that "the character of their political institutions was 
determined by the fundamental laws respecting prop- 
erty." These laws, he said, provided for the equal 
division of the estate of an intestate among his children, 
while the establishment of public registration and the 
simplicity of our forms of conveyance have facilitated 
the change of real estate among the living. 

Next comes the subject of popular education. This 
is, perhaps, more important than any question of the dis- 
tribution of property. " Give light, and the darkness 
will dispel itself." Give education, and everything else 
will right itself in time. Still, some of the nations of 
the Old World may discover to their cost that unless 
other reforms go with the education of the masses, the 
righting process will seem like the first breaking of light 
over chaos. 

The history of popular education in America is a 
familiar story. All the early settlers of 'New England 
paid great attention to instructing their children ; first 
at home, or in the ministers' houses, and then in public 
schools. In 164Y, the Massachusetts Colony passed a 
law providing that every township of fifty household- 
ers should appoint a schoolmaster to teach the chil- 
dren to read and write ; and that his wages should be 
paid by the parents, or the public at large, according 
to the decision of the majority of the inhabitants. By 
1665, every town in Massachusetts had a common school, 
and, if it contained over one hundred inhabitants, a gram- 
mar school. The other New England colonies followed 
in the wake of Massachusetts. In Connecticut every 


town that did not keep a school for three months in the 
year was hable to a fine. Meantime the Dutch had es- 
tabhshed free schools in New York. This was the be- 
ginning of the educational system of the United States. 

When the Puritan spirit began to decline there was a 
f alling-off in the schools and an increase of illiteracy ; but 
the love of learning never died out, and the free schools 
never were abandoned. At the close of the Revolution 
there was donated to the Union the vast domain north 
of the Ohio and west of the Alleghany Mountains, New 
York leading off in this generous cession.* In 1785, Con- 
gress passed an act reserving for educational purposes 
the sixteenth section of each township in this public ter- 
ritory. The policy then established has been followed 
in regard to all subsequent acquisitions, and in 1858 an 
additional section was granted by the government.f Up 
to the present time these grants aggregate over seventy- 
eight million acres, a territory larger than the whole of 
Great Britain and Ireland combined. In 1880, the United 
States spent eighty-tw^o and a half million dollars on her 
common public schools, which were estimated to number 
one hundred and seventy-seven thousand, and in 1889 
the expenditure had risen to over a hundred and thirty 
millions, while the schools had increased to two hundred 
and sixteen thousand. The census of 1880 showed that 
in the Northern States only five per cent, of the native 
population were unable to read and write. 

Now, does any one imagine that America is indebted 
to England for its free-school system or general scheme 

* Magazine of American History, March, 1888, p. 200. 

t Eacli township contains thirty-six sections, one mile square. 
The allotment for educational purposes is therefore, since 1858, one 
ei"-hteeuth of the national domain. Census Bulletin No. 53, 1891. 


for the education of the masses? Let us see. While 
New York was settled by Hollanders, and New England, 
as we shall see hereafter, largely by Puritans from Eng- 
land tinctured with Dutch ideas, Virginia had a differ- 
ent class of colonists. It is absurd to speak of them as 
of a better blood than the settlers in the North, for the 
latter came of the best old Anglo-Saxon stock, and they 
were made up of the most intelligent as well as the most 
sturdy and virtuous of their race. But Virginia was set- 
tled from a different class of the community. Her col- 
onists, when not convicts or indented servants, were 
mostly average Englishmen of the Established Church, 
and, like the average Englishmen, opposed to all innova- 
tions in Church or State. So it came about that, in 1671, 
Sir William Berkeley, the Governor of Virginia, could 
write to England : " I thank God there are no free 
schools or printing, and I hope we shall not have them 
these hundred years. For learning has brought heresy, 
and disobedience, and sects into the world, and printing 
has divulged them, and libels against the best govern- 
ment. God keep us from both !" There spoke simply the 
typical English Tory, and the type was to remain un- 
changed in England for two hundred years to come. 

Now turn to the mother country itself, and look at 
her record. During the re'gn of Edward VI., some 
grammar schools — w^e should now, perhaps, call them 
Latin or high schools — eighteen for the whole kingdom, 
were established by the reformers of his government. 
At various times a few more were added by private in- 
dividuals. One of these rare schools, founded at Strat- 
ford-on-Avon by a native of that town w^ho had gone 
up to London and become Lord Mayor, bore the name 
of William Shakespeare on its rolls. But for the good 
fortune of his townsman he might have died mute and 


inglorious. These were purely charitable institutions 
where learning, such as it was, was doled out as an alms. 
The government did nothing further in the cause of edu- 
cation for nearly three centuries, until the year 1832, 
when Parliament made for this object the munificent 
appropriation of twenty thousand pounds. This was the 
first recognition in England of the principle that the 
State owes any duty to its children. In 1839, the annual 
grant was raised to thirty thousand, and then was in- 
creased from time to time until 1869, when it amounted 
to half a million pounds, about one fifth as much as the 
sum spent annually by the State of ISTew York alone. 
This money was used not to found or support free 
schools, but to aid those of a voluntary character. At 
these state-aided schools about one million three hun- 
dred thousand children were instructed, two millions 
more were receiving no education at all, and another 
million were being taught at private adventure schools, 
where the education was of the most defective character.* 
The English governing classes seem until a very re- 
cent date to have felt the same reluctance to educating 
the working people that they still feel to giving them 
land. Keep a man landless, and you make him depend- 
ent ; keep him in ignorance, and you make him subservi- 
ent. It was urged in England, and the argument has 
been heard in America, that if all classes are educated 
the rich cannot secure good servants, and that hired la- 
borers will be discontented with their lot. This is all 
very well for the masters, but how about the servants ? 
America does not believe that the English lackey, much 
as he contributes to one's comfort, is the type of man- 

* " Fifteen Years of National Education in England," Weitminater 
Review, Oct., 1886. 
I.— 3 


hood that civilization is intended to develop, and it has 
found from practical experience that a farm - laborer 
works no worse because he looks forward to being a 
proprietor himself. 

In 1870, England, for the first time, entered upon a 
system of national education by establishing common 
schools for the masses. Since that time great progress 
has been made, although the education is yet defective, 
is of only an elementary character, and not wholly free.* 

In view of the state of education in England at that 
time, we can appreciate the surprise felt by Charles 
Dickens when, in 1842, he visited the manufacturing 
town of Lowell, in Massachusetts. Upon his return 

* In 1886, Mattliew Arnold made a report to the Educational 
Department of England on the elementary schools of the Continent, 
which he had examined in an official capacity. Strangely enough, 
he discovered, what every foreigner knew before, that the English 
system was much behind that of other countries. He found the 
school-children of France, Germany, and Switzerland looking "liu- 
man." Those who have seen the look on the faces of the English 
peasantry will appreciate his meaning. But what can be expected 
when we consider how recent has been the effort to raise them up ? 
Matthew Arnold, Nineteenth Century, Oct., 1886. Still, backward as 
it is, the system is intended only for the very poor and very young. 
For the middle classes no provision is made at all. On this subject 
Mr. Arnold wrote, in 1885 : " I have often said that we seem to me 
to need at present in England three things in especial — more equal- 
ity, education for the middle classes, and a thorough municipal sys- 
tem : a system of local assemblies is but the natural complement of a 
thorough municipal system." — Nineteenth Century^ Feb., 1885, p. 231. 
In 1891 the English budget showed a surplus, caused by the in- 
creased consumption of intoxicating liquors in the kingdom. Of 
this surplus, £2,000,000 w-ere, after a long parliamentary debate, 
devoted to the cause of elementary education, in addition to the ap- 
propriations made before. This will make education for the very 
poor substantially free. 


home he wrote, regarding the operatives that he saw 
there : " I am now going to state three facts which will 
startle a large class of readers on this side of the Atlan- 
tic very much. Firstly, there is a joint-stock piano in 
a great many of the boarding-houses. Secondly, nearly 
all these young ladies subscribe to circulating libraries. 
Thirdly, they have got up among themselves a period- 
ical called the Lowell Offering^ 'a repository of orig- 
inal articles written exclusively by females actively em- 
ployed in the mills,' which is duly printed, published, 
and sold, and whereof I brought awa}^ from Lowell four 
hundred good, solid pages, which I have read from be- 
ginning to end. It will compare advantageously with 
a great many English annuals." * 

Connected with the subject of popular education are 
some other important and interesting facts. In Sep- 
tember, 1886, the Library Association of the United 
Kingdom met in London. The report then presented 
showed that in all of England, Scotland, and Ireland 
there were but one hundred and fourteen free libraries. 
The London Standard, in an article on the subject, held 
up America as an example for England to imitate. 
"Americans," it said, "are our masters in many de- 
partments of literary administration," and then referred 
to our town libraries, which in England are almost un- 
known.f Well may Englishmen express surprise at the 
public libraries in the United States. According to the 
last report upon this subject, made by the Commissioner 
of Education in 1884, those containing more than three 

* " American Notes," p. G6. 

t New York Tribune, Sept. 30tli, Oct. 4th, 1886. This system 
began in New York in 1835, but that state has been since far out- 
stripped by some of her sisters. 


hundred volumes each numbered over .five thousand, 
with an aggregate of over twenty miUion volumes, and 
most of them are free. "VVe have no such single colossal 
collection as that of the British Museum, but the books 
there are used only by scholars as works of reference. 
These, too, which are much needed, will come in time.* 
The books scattered over America are intended for an- 
other purpose, and are read by the people for whom 
they are supplied. The result is that the Americans, 
whose tastes are thus fostered, are the greatest reading 
people of the world. Of all the standard English books, 
many more copies, in proportion to the population, are 
sold in the United States than in Great Britain. Even 
the " Encyclopaedia Britannica," supposed to be partic- 
ularly a work for scholars, had fifty thousand American 
subscribers for its ninth edition, against ten thousand in 
Great Britain, with more than half the population of 
the United States. Of Herbert Spencer's Avorks, more 
than one hundred thousand were sold before he visited 
this country, in 1882, "When we come to American 
books, the figures are fabulous. The " American Cyclo- 
pedia" had one hundred and twenty thousand subscrib- 
ers, and the "Memoirs of General Grant" over three 
hundred thousand. 

Turning now from the common schools and the libra- 
ries for the education of the masses, when we glance at 
institutions for higher education, the contrast between 
America and England is even more marked. The latter 
country affords no free education to the middle classes, 

* Of our public libraries, more than three hundred contain over 
ten thousand volumes, forty-seven over fifty thousand, twelve over a 
hundred thousand, and two over four hundred thousand each. — 
Carnegie's " Triumi^hant Democracy," p. 362. 


and no free higher education to any, while in this field 
America reigns supreme. In thoroughness of instruc- 
tion her average primary schools, though superior to 
those of England, are perhaps inferior to those of Ger- 
many and even France, with their old civilization and 
denser populations. But her system of free public high 
schools is a growth of democracy, which has been as yet 
achieved in none of the older countries." France and 
Germany have some high schools assisted by the State, 
but America is the only country in the world where the 
principle is fully recognized that every person is enti- 
tled to receive a thorough and complete education at 
the public charge. 

To secure this, not only are free grammar or high 
schools generally to be found in all the larger towns — 
and those of Western cities like Denver and Omaha 
are not inferior to those in Eastern places of the same 
sizef — but twenty-eight states have established state 
universities, which in most cases offer a free classical 
and scientific college education. In addition, all the 
states but six have founded free normal schools and 
training colleges, some one hundred and thirty-four in 
number, for the education of male and female teachers.:}: 
In the United States are three thousand six hundred 
and fifty schools higher than those for primary instruc- 
tion. Of these, three hundred and eighty -four, exclu- 
sive of those for women alone, are universities or col- 
leges. To be sure, many of these institutions are but 

* Westminster Review, Jan., 1887, p. 13. 

t In 1888-89 the United States expended on her high schools about 
$40,000,000.—" Report of Com. of Education." This was in addi- 
tion to the $130,000,000 for common schools. 

X See "Report of the U. S. Commissioner of Education," 1887-88. 


high schools authorized to confer degrees, but tliey place 
the key of knowledge within the reach of every one 
who cares for a student's life, and increase enormously 
the chances of bringing to the front any latent genius. 
In England such development is, in the main, only for 
the rich. 

At one time it was very natural for the American 
scholar to look down on our American colleges, and to 
look up with awe to the classic halls of Oxford and 
Cambridge as model seats of learning. But the latter 
feeling has practically passed away. The clear-sighted 
American long since discovered that, to the student, 
England, with her somewhat antiquated system of in- 
struction, has little to offer. The fact is, that the Eng- 
lish are to-day nearly as far behind the world in higher 
as in primary education. During the great intellectual 
awakening which followed the Middle Ages, the classics 
were eagerly studied by European scholars because they 
opened up a new world of thought, and furnished mod- 
els of literary excellence elsewhere unknown. In tak- 
ing up these branches, England lagged a century behind 
the Continent, and now that other fields are developed 
she is almost as much in the rear as ever. Although 
the world has made great advances since the Revival of 
Learning, it is still very difficult to persuade an English- 
man that the sole aim of a university education is not 
to pass some civil-service examination, or to obtain a 
knowledge of Greek and Latin, the chief test of a schol- 
ar three centuries ago, to which may now be added a 
knowledge of the mathematics. Everywhere the value 
of these studies is conceded; but Continental nations rec- 
ognize the fact that others are of equal, if not of para- 
mount, importance. The result is, that the Englishman 
of the present generation who desires to pursue with 


thoroughness any branch of modern study, including 
even his own literature, is compelled, in most cases, to 
seek his instruction in the Continental universities.* 

If England has anything of which she may be justly 
proud, it is her literature, and especially her poetry. 
From Shakespeare to Tennyson she shows a roll of 
authors unsurpassed in modern times. Whatever else 
may pass away, however time may work changes in her 
form of government — whether she lose Ireland, India, 
her commercial supremacy, or her wealth — her literature 
at least will be immortal. Yet when we see a Frenchman 
writing the only history of that literature worthy of the 
name, and when we are told by her own scholars that 

* Of the English university education of to-day, Prof Huxley 
says : " That a young Eugiislimau may be turned out of our universi- 
ties epopt and perfect, so far as their system takes him, and yet ig- 
norant of the noble literature "which has grown up in these islands 
during the last tliree centuries, no less than of the development of 
the philosophic and political ideas which have most profoundly influ- 
enced modern civilization, is a fact in the history of the nineteenth 
century wliicli the twentieth will find hard to believe; though, per- 
haps, it is not more incredible than our current superstition that 
whoso wishes to write and speak English well should mould his 
style after the models furnished by classical antiquity." — The Pall 
Mall Budget, Oct. 28, 1886. Cambridge has never done anything 
worth speaking of for the study of English literature, and it was 
not until 1886 that a chair for that subject was founded at Oxford. 
Prof Max Miiller said at the time : "I have had to confess, particu- 
larly in conversation with Americans, who often come to Oxford for 
the sole purpose of studying English literature, that our not having 
a professor of that subject at Oxford seemed to me a serious blem- 
ish." — Idem. Prof. Skeat, of Cambridge, wrote to the new young 
professor who had been educated at Berlin and Gottingen : "You 
know — what few Englishmen have any idea of — what training 
in our language and literature is and involves. For it, American 
students always go to Germany. They can't get it here." — Idem. 


for its proper study one must go to Germany, nothing 
else as to English higher education need cause surprise. 

As to every other department of knowledge the story 
is now the same. Take medicine, surgery, chemistry, 
or any other branch of science ; law, philosophy, history, 
or art in any of its forms, and although Englishmen 
have achieved exceptional greatness in almost every 
department, no one ever thinks of going to England, 
as in times past, to pursue his studies. Americans go 
there to visit the homes of their ancestors, to look at 
stately castles and superb cathedrals, to travel through 
a land full of historic interest ; but when they wish to 
study they go to France, Germany, Italy, or Austria.* 

So long as America simply followed English prece- 

* Tliixt the English themselves are waking up to an appreciation of 
the fact that something is wrong about their colleges appears from 
the protest against their educational system, signed by several hun- 
dred leading scholars, which was published in tlie Nineteenth Cen- 
tury for Nov., 1888. See also article on "Oxford and its Professors," 
Edinburgh Bevieio, Oct., 1889. No instruction in English literature, 
rhetoric, modern European languages or literature, wliile the attend- 
ance at lectures on science, philosophy, law, etc., is little more than 
nominal. Max MiiUer says: "To enable young men to pass their 
examinations seems now to have become the chief, if not the only, 
object of the universities." — "India, What Can It Teacli Us?" Amer. 
ed. p. 19. The examinations are for admission to the civil service. 
Every reader, of course, will understand that my remarks apply only 
to the general system of English education, which is of the last cen- 
tury, and out of touch with modern thought. Individual Englishmen 
are, through home-training, foreign study, the influence of national 
societies, and a general intellectual atmosphere in the universities 
and elsewhere, among the most cultured and scholarly of men. Tliis 
has come about despite tlie defects in their system. How much 
more would be accomplished under a less narrow and insular system 
is a different question. 


dents, her colleges were defective and her scientific schools 
hardly worthy of the name. Now, under Continental 
influences which every scholar appreciates, that reproach 
is passing away. The American system is in process of 
speedy development. It begins at the bottom with the 
widest base of general education. Deep scholarship, 
high intellectual culture, broad scientific knowledge, 
finished artistic skill, are fruits of slow growth. Why 
this new country has, in the past, been so deficient in 
these respects needs no explanation. But now, even in 
the upper departments, although she has no cause to be 
boastful, she is making gratifying progress. Already, in 
wood-engraving for book-illustration, and in artistic sil- 
verware, she has no superior, and in stained glass she 
has no equal. In astronomy and in some branches of 
mathematics she takes a fair place. In surgery and in 
all surgical appliances she probably leads the world. 
Her medical, chemical, and engineering schools are so 
excellent that for mere purposes of instruction one scarce- 
ly needs to go abroad. Her universities are establish- 
ing post-graduate courses, which bid fair in time to 
supersede the necessity of foreign stud}^, in literature 
and historical science. Harvard, it must be remembered, 
received and welcomed the new learning from Germany, 
at the hands of Everett, Bancroft, and Ticknor, before 
it was accepted at the English universities. Everett's 
translation of Buttmann''s Greek Grammar was reprinted 
in England, with the " Massachusetts " omitted after the 
word " Cambridge " at the end of the preface. Mr. Ban- 
croft's translation of Heeren was the first of its kind, 
and the earliest version from Henry Heine into English 
was made by a graduate of Harvard.* 

* James Russell Lowell, " 250th Anniversary of Harvard." 


America is to-day the richest and the first manufact- 
uring, as she is the first agricultural, country of the 
world. If, with her wealth, free institutions, and uni- 
versal education, she also in the future becomes the first 
in learning and in art, she will evidently not be follow- 
ing the example of England, where higher education is 
restricted to the few. 

The third peculiar institution of America is that of 
local self-government. 

The contrast in this particular between America and 
England is as marked as anything that can be well 
imagined ; but it w^as little noticed in the latter country 
until the agitation of the question of home rule for 
Ireland brought it to the front. Even now, after all 
that has been written upon the subject, unless one has 
examined the subject with care, it is difficult for a person 
on this side of the Atlantic to appreciate the condition 
of local government in Great Britain. The difficulty 
arises from the fact that there is nothing which can be 
called a system, and the consequent helter-skelter con- 
fusion is something the very existence of which seems 
to an American almost incredible. Ask the average 
Englishman to explain bow local affairs are managed in 
Engfland, and he will look at you with wonder. He can 
perhaps tell you something about his own parish, or 
something very vague about his own county, but beyond 
that he knows nothing. Some matters are regulated 
by the clergyman and his vestry, others by the poor 
wardens ; the sheriffs and county officials are appointed 
by the Crown, w^hich means the Cabinet ; but of local 
self-government by the people themselves almost nothing 
exists except in the cities and larger towns.* 

* The reader who wishes to study the character of English local 


When the Englishman turns to America, he sees a 
system, and it is one that fills him with surprise, at least, 
if with no other feeling. Generally he looks only at its 
more salient features, the relations between the states 
and the federal government. In England Parliament 
ler i lates for the whole kingdom. That body takes 
up >n itself the management of the domestic, the local, 
the parochial, the municipal affairs of all the communities 

institutions can consult "Local Government," by M. D. Chalmers, in 
the " English Citizen Series," Macmillan & Co., 1883. This book 
tells a tale almost incredible of confusion, inefficiency, and waste. 
" Local government in this country," it says, " may be fitly described 
as consisting of a chaos of areas, a chaos of authorities, and a chaos 
of rates," p. 17. "Confusion and extravagance are tlie character- 
istic features of the whole system," p. 21. " Local boards are innumer- 
able, many of them are useless, but are kept up merely to supply 
places and salaries for the officials." — Idem. " The total property in 
England liable to taxation is estimated to produce a gross rental of 
£157,000,000. Local expenditures for 1880 amounted to £50,000,000, 
nearly one third of the rental," pp. 26, 28. "English local affairs are 
regulated by some 650 acts of Parliament of general application, and 
several thousand of a special character for particular towns or dis- 
tricts. The latter accumulate at tlie rate of about sixty a year. In 
England and Wales are 52 counties, 239 municipal boroughs, 70 
Improvement Act districts, 1006 urban sanitary districts, 41 port 
sanitary authorities, 577 rural sanitary districts, 2051 school-board 
districts, 424 highway districts, 843 burial-board districts, 649 unions, 
194 lighting and watcliing districts, 14,916 poor-law parishes, 5064 
highway parishes, and about 13,000 ecclesiastical parishes. These 
all overlap and intersect each other, so as to make a perfect tangle 
of jurisdictions. One farm of 200 acres was, some few years ago, 
in twelve different parishes, and subject to about fifty different rates," 
pp. 18, 21. Some districts are governed by twelve, fifteen, or twenty 
different local authorities, selected at different times, and with dif- 
ferent qualifications for the voters. No wonder that every English- 
man gives tlie subject up in despair, as incapable of comprehension. 


of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. It arranges 
for every local gas bill, water bill, sewerage bill, and 
railway bill for the two islands. In America, the Federal 
Congress legislates only on matters of national concern, 
everything else is left to the separate states. 

But the difference between the two countries goes 
much deeper than this. The American system is a com- 
plete one, reaching down to the foundations, and the 
foundations are its most important portions. At the 
bottom lies the township, which divides the whole ISTorth 
and West into an infinity of little republics, each manag- 
ing its own local affairs. In the old states they differ in 
area and in their machinery. In the new states of the 
West they are more regular in size, being generally six 
miles square. But in all the system is substantially 
alike. Each township elects its own local officers and 
manages its own local affairs. Annually, a town meet- 
ing is held of all the voters, and suffrage is limited only 
by citizenship. At these meetings, not only are the 
local officers elected, such as supervisors, town-clerks, 
justices of the peace, road-masters, and the like, but 
money is appropriated for bridges, schools, libraries, and 
other purposes of a local nature. 

Next above the township stands the county, an aggre- 
gate of a dozen or so of towns. Its officials, sheriffs, 
judges, clerks, registers, and other officers to manage 
county affairs are chosen at the general state election. 
It also has a local assembly, formed of the town super- 
visors. They audit accounts, supervise the county in- 
stitutions, and legislate as to various county matters. 

Above the counties again stands the state government, 
with its legislature, which passes laws relating to state 
affairs ; and finally the federal government, Avhich deals 
only with national concerns. The whole forms a con- 


sistent and harmonious system, whicli reminded Mat- 
thew Arnold of a well-fitting suit of clothes, loose where 
it should be loose, and tight where tightness is an ad- 

As we have already noticed, the feature of it all 
which strikes the Englishman most forcibly is the sepa- 
ration of local from national affairs in the administra- 
tion of the state and the general government. But the 
township system, with its more direct local self-govern- 
ment, is of greater importance. Giv^en that, and the rest 
of the system follows almost as matter of course. Every 
American is a politician, and feels a keen interest in his 
presidential and state elections. But, after all, these are 
generally of much less practical importance to him than 
the home elections, which determine whether his local 
affairs shall be wisely, economically, and justly admin- 
istered. General taxation is a trifle compared with that 
for his schools, roads, bridges, and other local expenses. 
It is in the town meeting that the incipient statesman is 
formed. It is in managing his local affairs that the 
American acquires the discipline, the self-respect, and 
self-reliance which enable him, when occasion calls, to 
command a company, a regiment, or an army, control a 
railroad or govern a state. When our late war closed, 
the United States had one of the most efficient armies 
that ever stood in line of battle. The secret lay in the 
fact that each man was a drilled and disciplined, but 
at the same time a thinking, machine. The drill and 
discipline came from years of service, but the man 
beneath them came from the school-house and the town 

'Now, does any one imagine that the American insti- 
tutions of local self-government are of English origin ? 
What England is to-day we have faintly outlined. As 


to the past, we can pursue the same line of inquiry as 
was followed in relation to the origin of the free-school 
system. It was only where the Puritans settled that the 
township and the town meeting were fully developed. 
Virginia attempted to copy directly the parishes and 
vestries, boroughs and guilds, of England. Jefferson 
said : " These wards, called townships in ISTew England, 
are the vital principle of their government ; and have 
proved themselves the "wisest invention ever devised by 
tlie wit of man for the perfect exercise of self-govern- 
ment, and for its preservation," De Tocqueville wrote, 
over fifty years ago : " The more w^e descend towards 
the South, the less active does the business of the town- 
ship or parish become ; the population exercises a less 
immediate influence on affairs; the power of the elected 
magistrate is augmented and that of the elections di- 
i^inished, while the public spirit of the local communities 
is less awakened and less influential." The system does 
not appear to be English in its origin. How it came to 
America is an interesting question. 

We have now passed in review some of the most im- 
portant of the institutions which to-day are found in 
the United States and are not found in England. Even 
if we went no further, he would be a bold man who, 
after studying their influence upon the national life and 
character, should still continue to claim that America 
was only a transplanted England. But, in addition to 
these peculiar institutions, there are others, now com- 
mon to both countries, which have exerted a powerful 
influence in the United States for more than a century, 
while they have been only recently introduced into Eng- 
land, and in that country are just beginning to bear 

Three of these are of an importance which no one 


will question. They are freedom of religion, freedom 
of the press, and the secret ballot. The first protects 
the conscience, the second protects the mind, the third 
protects the suffrage. Without these guarantees the 
United States of the nineteenth century seems impossi- 
ble, and yet for none of them are we indebted to the 
legislation or to the example of the mother country. In 
adopting each of them, England has not been the leader, 
but has followed in the footsteps of America. 

First, as to the introduction of religious liberty into 
the two countries, a few dates tell the whole story. Of 
the Established Church in England I have already 
spoken — the Church which exacts a tax from every 
one, and which is the chief bulwark of the aristocracy. 
Still, with the exception of this tax, all religious de- 
nominations stand to-day in England on a basis of 
equality before the law, save that a Catholic cannot 
sit on the throne, nor can he hold the oflBce of Lord 
Chancellor of England or that of Lord Lieutenant of 
Ireland. But the establishment of this equality is of 
very recent date. In 1689 a partial Act of Toleration 
was enacted, but it was not extended to Unitarians un- 
til 1813, to Eoman Catholics until 1829, and to Jews un- 
til 1858. Until such respective dates the members of 
these proscribed religious bodies were excluded from 
public office, while it was not until 1871 that all relig- 
ious tests were abolished in the universities of Oxford 
and Cambridge, so as to open those institutions equally 
to students of all religious denominations. 

The removal of this last restriction, as we shall see 
hereafter, was nearly a hundred years after religious 
liberty had been proclaimed in the United States. 

jSText let us consider the question of the freedom of 
the press. Of the importance of this subject nothing 


need be said ; but here again attention is for the present 
requested simply to a few facts and dates. About a 
centuiy after tlie printing-press was introduced into 
England, and as soon as it came to be recognized as a 
power in religious and political discussions, it was placed 
under a rigid censorship. Printing was permitted only 
in certain specified places, and the approval of certain 
officials was required before a book could be given to 
the public. This system continued until 1693, when the 
licensing law was permitted to expire.* 

But with the abolition of the censorship the English 
judges took the subject up, and the system which was 
developed under their manipulation of the law was 
nearly as oppressive as the one just abolished. They 
held that in criminal prosecutions for libel — and such 
prosecutions were the ordinary means of silencing polit- 
ical opponents — the truth could not be given in evidence, 
and that the jury before whom the offender was tried 
had nothing to do except to pass upon the fact of publi- 
cation. " The greater the truth, the greater the libel," 
became the maxim of the law. In other words, if a 
citizen published a statement regarding an official or a 
candidate for office, charging him with corruption or 
with any other offence against the state, the publisher 
or author could be arrested for libel, and would be tried 
before a judge, who excluded all evidence of the truth 
of the charges, left to the jury only the question of the 
publication or authorship, and then, if the prisoner was 
found guilty, sentenced him to fine or imprisonment, 
and frequently to both. 

ISTo one at all acquainted with the political history of 
England needs to be told how persistently this muzzle 

* Hallam's "Constitutional History," iii. 163. 


of the press was utilized by the government during the 
last centurj^. There were, from time to time, juries to be 
found who, under the spell of consummate orators, were 
willing to go to prison for contempt of court rather than 
to find a verdict against the tribunes of the people. But 
for such revolts against the law English liberty would 
have been dead indeed. Yet although under these occa- 
sional breaths of free air the spark was kept alive, the 
flame burned very low.* 

* Chief Justice Holt is represented in history as one of the friends 
and upholders of liberty. In 1704, Tutchin, the printer of the OJ- 
servator, was tried before him for an article criticising Queen Anne's 
ministers in language which we should now consider very innocent. 
The defendant's counsel having attempted to justify it, Holt observed 
to the jury : " I am surprised to be told that a writing is not a libel 
H'hich reflects upon tlie government, and endeavors to possess the 
people with the notion that the government is administered by cor- 
rupt persons. If writers should not be called to account for possess- 
ing the people with an ill opinion of the government, no government 
can subsist. You are to consider whether the words which I have 
read to you do not tend to beget an ill opinion of the administration 
of the government. Their purport is that those who are employed 
know nothing of the matter, and those who do know are not em- 
ployed ; that men are not adapted to offices, but ofBces to men, out 
of particular regard to their interest, and not to their fitness." The 
defendant was accordingly found guilty. Campbell's "Lives of 
the Chief Justices" (Blauchard & Lea, 1853), ii. 120. This was 
the law for many years, that any reflection upon the administration 
was punishable as a criminal libel. See Hallam's " Cons. Hist.," 
iii. 164-166. In 1731, on the trial of Franklin, Lord Raymond 
positively refused to admit any evidence to prove the published 
matter to be true. In the famous trial of the Dean of St. Asaph, some 
fifty years later, Lord Mansfield sustained this doctrine, and he was 
afterwards supported in his view of the law by all the judges in the 
House of Lords. Campbell's "Lives of the Chief Justices," ii. 

I.— 4 


In 1792, Mr. Fox's Libel bill was passed, declaring that 
on a trial for libel the jury, in giving its verdict, had a 
right to take into consideration the character and ten- 
dency of the paper alleged to be libellous. Still, the truth 
of the facts stated in the publication complained of could 
not be inquired into ; for half a century longer the maxim 
prevailed, '' the greater the truth the greater the libel ;" 
and it was only in the year 1845, under Lord Camp- 
bell's Libel bill, that the truth was finally admitted in 
evidence, and the jury was allowed to decide whether 
the defendant was actuated by malice or by a desire for 
the good of the community.* 

Such was the law of libel in England until 1845. Now 
let us turn to the United States. The first amendments 
to the Federal Constitution, adopted in 1791, provided 
that Congress should make no law " abridging the free- 
dom of speech or of the press," and most of the early 
constitutions of the states already contained similar or 
more stringent guarantees. But in 1790 a further step 
had been taken by one of the Middle States. In that 
year Pennsylvania adopted her second Constitution, 
which contained the following provision : " In prosecu- 
tions for the publications of papers investigating the 
oflScial conduct of officers or men in a public capacity, or 
where the matter published is proper for public infor- 
mation, the truth thereof may be given in evidence; and 
in all indictments for libels the jury shall have a right to 
determine the law and the facts, under the direction of 
the court, as in other cases." This was two years before 
the half-way measure of Mr. Fox, and fifty-five years be- 
fore the bill of Lord Campbell. Imitating the example 

* Campbell's " Lives of the Chief Justices," " Mansfield," ii. 


of Pennsylvania, the other states followed with similar 
provisions, so that long before the press was free in Eng- 
land, America had adopted the principle that in prosecu- 
tions for libel the truth could be given in evidence if 
published for proper motives and for justifiable ends, 
and that the jury was to judge of the law as well as of 
the facts.* 

As we search in vain to find in England the orio-in of 
the religious freedom and the freedom of the press which 
prevail in the United States, so we shall meet with the 
same results in searching for the origin of the system 
under which our elections are carried on by means of a 
written or printed ballot. A secret election is the safe- 
guard of republican institutions. Where votes for pub- 
lic ofiicers are given mvd voce, or in any other manner 
which permits one person to learn how another has 
voted, there can be no real freedom of elections. This 
principle is now so well understood that it seems an 
axiom in politics, and yet it was not until the year 1872 
that voting by ballot was introduced into the mother 

* New York did not embody this principle in ber Constitution 
until 1821 ; but the Legislature bad declared by a statute, passed in 
1805, that this was the law of the state. In 1735, when a colony, 
her lawyers insisted that the English law of libel was not applicable 
here, and the court held with them so far as to permit the jury to 
pass upon the law as well as the facts, and the prisoner was acquitted. 
"Zenger's Trial," printed in New York and London. Thenceforth 
the New York press was free ; but in New England a censorship ex- 
isted until about 1755. Tyler's " Hist, of American Literature," i. 113. 
In 1723, for example, Benjamin Franklin was forced to leave Boston, 
much to the advantage of Pennsylvania, for having published a libel 
on its hierarchy ; his brother, for the same offence, was imprisoned for 
a month, and forbidden to publish his paper except under official 


country. Until that time all municipal elections, and all 
elections for members of Parliament, were conducted by 
show of hands or oral declarations, after the primitive 
fashion of rude nations, the feudal chieftain, the land- 
lord, or employer being enabled to see whether his hench- 
men, tenant, or employe was voting for the candidate of 
his selection. 

For many years protests had been made against this 
system. O'Connell introduced a bill on the subject in 
1830, and the original draft of the reform bill of Lord 
John Kussell provided for voting by ballot. But writ- 
ers like Sydney Smith denounced the " Mouse - trap " 
scheme, and the influence of the men who profited by 
intimidation or corruption was powerful enough to pre- 
vent its adoption until 1872, when Mr. Forster passed 
his famous act, which, deriving its main features from 
Australia, combines the elements of secrecy, simplicity, 
and efficiency.* 

Here again we see America as an instructor, and not 
as a copyist, of England. When the thirteen colonies 
adopted their first state constitutions, from 1776 to 
1790, four of the thirteen — Delaware, Pennsylvania, 
Korth Carolina, and Georgia— provided that all voting 
at elections should be by ballot.f The Constitution of 
ISTew York permitted the Legislature to tr}^ it as an ex- 
periment ; this was done in the election of governor and 
lieutenant-governor in 1778, and ten years later the new 
system was fully introduced. Following these exam- 
ples all the states, old and new, have by their constitu- 

* " Encyclopsedia Britannica," article " Ballot." 
t Connecticut and Rhode Island, which continued to live under 
their old charters for many years, already had the system. 


tions provided for the same mode of voting, Kentucky 
bringing up the rear in 1891.* 

This is not the place for considering the question of 
the origin of rehgious liberty, the freedom of the press, 
or the secret ballot. Hereafter these subjects will be 
discussed. But one fact in regard to their existence in 
America is very apparent. As religious liberty and the 
secret ballot were established here nearly a century, and 
the freedom of the press more than half a centurv, before 
their establishment in England, we need not look for 
their origin to any English precedent. English writers, 
like Sir Henry Maine, who have looked into the Federal- 
ist, express surprise at the sources from which the ex- 
pounders of the Federal Constitution drew their histori- 
cal illustrations. Their writings display, Maine says, an 
entire familiarity with the Republic of the United Neth- 
erlands, and the Romano-German Empire, but " there is 
one fund of political experience upon which the Federal' 
ist seldom draws, and that is the political experience of 
Great Britain."f But the men who founded the American 

* Kentucky, ■which was carved out of Virginia, adopted the ballot 
in its first Constitution, 1793, but went back to the English viva-voce 
system in 1799, and retained it until 1891, except in elections for 
congressmen, which are regulated by a statute of the United States. 
Virginia itself retained the old system until 1864. During the agi- 
tation for a ballot in England, extending over more than half a cen- 
tury, the example of the United States was constantly referred to by 
its advocates. See Edinburgh Review, 1853, p. 611 ; 1831, p. 481. 
For other articles on the subject, see 1819, p. 165 ; 1833, p. 543 ; 1837, 
p. 211; 1857, p. 262. 

t "Popular Government," by Sir Henry Maine, p. 206. This same 
writer, in an earlier work, referring to the American Revolution, 
makes a significant remark: "The American lawyers of the time, 
and particularly those of Virginia, appear to have possessed a stock 
of knowledge which differed chiefly from that of their English con- 


republics, state and federal, were not seeking to imitate 
Great Britain, They set out to establish institutions such 
as they thought England ought to have, and not those 
which they found existing. The difference between these 
two objects, the actual and the ideal English institutions of 
a century ago, although often overlooked, is very marked. 
Leaving now these great institutions which lie at the 
base of the republic, let us see how America deals with 
her dependent, abnormal, and criminal population, who 
in England form such a large section of the people. In 
1842, Charles Dickens said of Boston : " Above all, I sin- 
cerely believe that the public institutions and charities 
of this capital of Massachusetts are as nearly perfect as 
the most considerate wisdom, benevolence, and human- 
ity can make them. I never in my life was more af- 
fected by the contemplation of happiness under circum- 
stances of privation and bereavement than in my visits 
to these establishments." ^ In commenting on the dif- 
ference between the charities of America and England, 
Dickens laid great and deserved stress upon the fact 
that those of this country were in the main managed by 
the state, while in England they are left to the benevo- 
lence of private individuals. He argued that where the 
unfortunate classes are regarded as wards of the people 
at large, a better feeling must exist towards the govern- 
ment than where they are considered outcasts and mere 
objects of private charity. This is the key-note of the 
difference between the nations, and we find the same 
contrast here as in the matter of education. 

temporaries in including mucli which could only have been derived 
from the legal literature of Continental Europe." — " Ancient Law," 
Amer. ed. p. 91. 

* " American Notes." 


In the United States, the blind, deaf and dumb, and 
imbecile are looked upon as citizens having a claim upon 
the State, and it is one always cheerfully acknowledged. 
In England they are regarded as paupers, who must be 
kept from starving by the poor-rates, but beyond that 
having no claim upon the government. In fact. Great 
Britain, to-day, is the only country in the civilized world 
where the State does not aid in the education of the 
blind, the deaf and dumb, and those without ordinary 
mental powers.* The proportion of the abnormal class- 
es in America is much smaller than in Great Britain, so 
that fewer institutions are needed as compared with 
the population. Great Britain and Ireland, for example, 
have forty-six deaf-and-dumb asylums, all private, while 
the United States has sixty-nine. The latter are most- 
ly public, however, and in them the whole cost of board, 
clothing, and education is in almost every case under- 
taken by the State.f 

When we now turn to prison reforms, we shall see 
America again as an instructor. ISTo one at all acquaint- 
ed Avith history needs to be told of the criminal code of 
England and of the prison system, which continued there 
until a very recent date. Up to the reign of George I. 
there were sixty-seven offences that were punishable by 

* " The British tax-payer, alone among all civilized Christian men, 
enjoys immunity from taxation for the instruction of those who un- 
der the name of the ' abnormal classes,' those who without sight 
and without ordinary mental power, are the special care of even such 
a poor nation as Norway." — Dr. Buxton's " Notes on Progress." 

t The Nineteenth Century, Oct., 1884, p. 597; Report of U. S. Com. 
of Education, 1887-88. Besides these, tlie United States have thirty- 
two public asylums for the blind and twenty-two for feeble-minded 
children. Idem. 


death. Between his accession and the termination of the 
reign of George III., about one hundred and thirty-six were 
added to the number. Of the criminal statutes of Great 
Britain, Sir Samuel Romilly said : " I have examined the 
codes of all nations, and ours is the worst, and worthy 
of the anthropophagi." As for the prisons, they were 
what Macaulay called them, simply " hells on earth." 

The first reform in the criminal code of English-speak- 
ing people began in Pennsylvania, having been ordered 
in the State Constitution of 1776, and this was followed 
by a penitentiary built at Philadelphia in 1786, through 
the influence of the Friends. The method of confine- 
ment in this institution is known as the Pennsylvania 
system. It consists of absolute solitary imprisonment, 
in which the convict is shut off from all human compan- 
ionship. New York followed, in 1797, with a new penal 
code and a new penal system. At first, the solitary 
Pennsylvania plan was tried, but this was found to en- 
tail serious physical and mental evils upon the subjects. 
Finally, at Auburn prison there was introduced, in 1823, 
the svstem of solitarv confineraent at night, with couOTe- 
gated silent work by day. This is known as the Auburn 
system, and has been more generally adopted through- 
out the civilized world.* 

In Great Britain, despite the labors of the noble How- 
ard, Elizabeth Fry, and others, there was no real prison 
reform until after 1831. In that 3^ear a committee of 
the House of Commons Avas appointed to investigate 
the whole subject, and shortly afterwards it sent a rep- 
resentative, Mr. Crawford, across the Atlantic to exam- 
ine the prisons of America, which just at that time had 

* " A Half Century with Juvenile Delinquents," by B. K. Peirce, 
D.D. (New York, 1869), p. 31. 


been highly praised by distinguished travellers from 
France.* Upon his return, in 1834, Mr. Crawford made 
an able and exhaustive report, which attracted wide at- 
tention. The result was the introduction into England 
of the American prison system, upon both the Pennsyl- 
vania and the New York model. 

But America has done more than to give model peni- 
tentiary systems to the Old World. One of the great- 
est evils of the former prisons consisted in the huddling 
together of all ages and classes — the young with the old, 
the child guilty of his first offence with the habitual 
criminal, grown gray in crime. In the removal of this 
moral leprosy ISTew York led the way by establishing, 
in 1824, a House of Refuge for juvenile delinquents.! 
By the laws of the state magistrates were, and ever 
since have been, authorized to send to this reformatory 
institution all minors convicted of trivial offences, and 
even those guilty of felony if under sixteen years of 
age. There they are taught trades, are educated to hab- 
its of industry and thrift, learn that they have friends 
who care for their welfare, physical and spiritual, and 
the result has been that a large proportion of the in- 
mates have been permanently reformed. In 1828, Penn- 
sylvania followed the example of 'New York, and in the 

* "There can be little doubt," says a writer in the " Encyclopaeclia 
Britannica" (article "Prison Discipline"), "that tliis committee, like 
every one just then, was greatly struck by the superior method of 
prison discipline pursued in the United States. The best American 
prisons had recently been visited by two eminent Frenchmen, MM. 
Beaumont and De Tocqueville, who spoke of them in terras of the 
highest praise. It was with the object of appropriating what was 
best in the American system that Mr. Crawford was despatched across 
the Atlantic on a special mission of inquiry." 

t Edinburgh Review, 1855, p. 396. 


next forty years over twenty similar institutions were 
established in the United States, which, in that time, 
gathered within their walls from forty to fifty thou- 
sand criminal or imperilled children. From America 
the system has spread to Europe, and is now almost 
universal.* As the result of tliis kind of work, the com- 
mitments of female vagrants in the city of ISTew York 
fell off from 5880 in 1860 to 2525 in 1885, although in 
that time the population nearly doubled. The commit- 
ments of young girls for petit larceny were diminished 
from 944 to 243, and those of males from 2626 to 1950. 
Since 1853 one association in Kew York, the Children's 
Aid Society, has found homes in the West for some 80,000 
persons, most of them outcast, neglected, and orphan 
children, of whom over ninety-five per cent, have turned 
out well.f England established her first public institu- 
tion for juvenile offenders under the act of 1854.:|: 

We have now reviewed most of the important institu- 
tions which may be considered peculiarly American — 
that is, such as are found in this country, and not in all 
other countries claiming to be civilized. In our freedom 
from a State Church, the principle of equality underly- 
ing our whole system, in our written constitutions, the 
organization of our Senate, the power of our Supreme 
Court, our wide-spread local self-government, and our 
methods of transmitting and alienating land, we find, 
even to-day, the most radical differences between Amer- 
ica and the mother country ; while we also find that we 

*"A Half Century with Juvenile Delinquents." The census of 
1890 shows that there are now in the United States about sixty of 
these juvenile reformatories. Census Bulletin No. 72. 

t See Report of Society for 1886, p. 17. 

J See Nineteenth Century, Jan., 1887; "Prison Discipline," by 
Lord Norton. 


have been leaders, and not followers, in those institu- 
tions where a resemblance now exists, such as our sys- 
tem of popular education, freedom of religion, freedom 
of the press, the secret ballot, and the vast machinery of 
public charitable and reformatory work. 

There still remains one subject to be considered in this 
connection, our American system of law, which is usu- 
ally regarded as of English origin. To some persons, 
especially those of the legal profession, this topic seems 
of great importance ; they call crimes by English names, 
use English phrases in their legal documents, read Eng- 
lish law-books, and are inclined to argue, from the stand- 
point of their studies, that we must be an English race, 
because we inherit the inestimable legacy of the Com- 
mon Law. 

The question as to our legal system has been already 
discussed, so far as relates to the most important sub- 
jects with which governments ever attempt to deal; 
that is, religion through the Church, education through 
the printing-press, means of subsistence through the land, 
and the development of manhood through local self-gov- 
ernment. Compared with the law upon these subjects, 
which England certainly did not transmit to us, the rules 
by which states or individuals transact their ordinary 
business are but minor matters. 

As for the machinery of justice in America, some feat- 
ures of it are important, for they have served to shape 
the national character ; such are trial by jury, the right 
of accused persons to be defended by counsel, and the 
employment by the State of special officers for the pros- 
ecution of criminals. These may be regarded as insti- 
tutions ; and, as they are not common to all countries, 
their origin is on that account noteworthy, and will 
receive consideration in another place. But the body 


of municipal la\y, which lays down rules of action for 
the common affairs of life, stands on a different basis. 
Among all civilized nations, although different names 
may be employed, the same crimes are punished, and in 
much the same manner; the same principles of law pre- 
vail in business matters, and there is but little variance 
in their modes of application. The question of the ori- 
gin of these rules as they exist to-day in the United 
States is, however, an interesting one, and, if not of in- 
trinsic importance, its discussion will throw a side-light 
on some other material subjects. 

Apart from the great differences already noticed, and 
some others which will be specifically pointed out here- 
after, the legal systems of England and America are 
much alike. But this alone does not prove that Ameri- 
can law is of English origin, any more than it would 
prove it in regard to the Decalogue, which we also have 
in common with our kin across the sea. The latter, al- 
though read by most Americans only in King James's 
version of the Bible, far antedates the birth of England, 
and so does much of what we somewhat loosely speak 
of as English law. Most of this law is a transplanted 
growth, very little, except the decayed or stunted shoots, 
having sprung from British soil. Some of it has come to 
us by the way of England — that is, through the decisions 
of her judges and the writings of her commentators — 
but even the amount of this is often overestimated. We 
speak of English law as of English agriculture andJEng- 
lish manufactures, little realizing at the time how all of 
the three have changed since America was settled. As 
to the law, the change, though gradual, has been almost 
a revolution.* 

* "An account of the growth and development of our legal system 


Such of the early settlers of America as came from 
England were so opposed to the whole legal machinery 
which they left behind them, that in some of the colo- 
nies lawyers were not permitted to practise their pro- 
fession. Any one who reads the State Trials of the 
time of Elizabeth and the Stuarts will understand their 
abhorrence of the English mode of administering crimi- 
nal law. But, apart from this, they disliked the whole 
civil jurisprudence of their native land, regarding it as 
cumbrous, intricate, unjust, a snare for the unwary and 
a weapon for the knave. Well might they entertain 
such opinions, for probably they were founded on their 
own bitter experience. Few things in the history of 
England, during the last half of the sixteenth and the 
first part of the seventeenth century, are more remark- 
able than the prevalence of litigation, the growth and 
wealth of the lawyers, their chicanery, and the abuses 
of the courts.* The system was such that justice, even 
when there was honesty among the judges, was almost 
utterly lost sight of in a jungle of technicalities, worthy 
of the early schoolmen. The American colonists gener- 
ally supplanted this system with codes, many of the pro- 
visions of which were not borrowed from England, all 
having the merit of simplicity and being based on plain 
principles of justice.f 

is perhaps the most urgently needed of all additions to English 
knowledge." — Sir Henry Maine, " The Early History of Institu- 
tions " (Henry Holt, 1888), p. 342. See Gneist, " Hist, of the English 
Constitution," ii. 331, as to the want of a work on the history of Enw- 
lisli law in the eighteenth century, when the most rapid changes took 
place in some departments. 

* See Hall's " Society in the Elizabethan Age." 

t The early codes of Massachusetts and Connecticut are on some 
important points more than a century in advance of the law in Eno-- 


As the colonies grew, their jurisprudence naturally de- 
veloped with them, and after they became independent 
states this development was much more rapid. New law 
was required to meet new conditions of society. Some- 
times the want was supplied by enactments of the Legis- 
lature, at others by what Bentham aptly called judge- 
made law, the creation of the courts. The result is that 
the legal system of America has changed about as much 
in the last two centuries as the face of the country itself. 
In England, too, the same change has been going on, in 
much the same directions, and from the same causes. 

Some of the admirers of the old Common Law, who re- 
gard it as the perfection of human reasoning — perhaps 
upon the theory that knowing it to be ugly they think 
it must be great — tell us that all this seeming transforma- 
tion is unreal, that there has been only a development 
of original principles, and that the seeds of all our mod- 
ern system were contained in the earliest jurisprudence 
of the English race. Such a view of the facts ignores 
all the Continental influences which have affected the 
institutions of England, and to a much greater extent 
those of the United States. To show how this effect has 
been produced is the main object of the present work, 
and to its general discussion the subject of the law might 
make a fitting prelude. 

England and America have, to-day, much the same 

laud. Cromwell, who had studied law, and the other leading men 
of the Commonwealth were almost as much opposed to the lawyers 
as the colonists themselves. They wished to simplify the law, but 
the lawyers, as a class, opposed tliis and every other reform. They 
flourished on abuses. Cromwell regarded them not only as corrupt, 
but as among the worst enemies of liberty. Hosmer's " Sir Henry 
Vane," p. 438. I shall show hereafter what attempts were made 
under the Commonwealth to reform the law. 


legal principles, but they are the same because derived 
in large measure from a common foreign source, the Ro- 
man Civil Law. It is to Rome that we are indebted for 
almost all of our system of equity and admiralty ; our 
laws relating to the administration of estates and the 
care of minors, the rights of married w^omen, bailments, 
and, to a large extent, our w^hole system of commercial 
law. Of the old Common Law of early times, the sys- 
tem of a race of barbarians, very little now remains. 
How this has been brought about is a very simple story. 
It must be borne in mind that the men w^ho conquered 
the Britons and founded England were pagan savages, 
the rudest of their race, and least tinctured with the civ- 
ilization of Rome. Cut off from the Continent, where 
much of the old civilization still survived, the descend- 
ants of these men lingered on in barbarism, long after 
some of their brethren across the Channel. As for the 
law of the conquerors, it was such as might be expected 
from such a source. They knew and cared little about 
legal principles. Quite early they established the doc- 
trine, common to all rude nations,* that what some chief 
or judge had decided years before, however monstrous 
or unjust, must be followed by his successors. This 
made memory take the place of reason, a substitution 
never entirely reversed among their descendants, either 
in legal or political discussions. But if there was little 
reason, there was enough reasoning to take its place. 
This, however, w^as of the same character as that which 
prevailed in the early universities, where w^ords Avere 
everything and principles of small account. Under this 
system there grew up a jurisprudence cumbrous, compli- 
cated, and unnatural, which in many of its features will 

* See Maine's " Ancient Law." 



only excite amazement and derision among our descend- 
ants a few generations hence. 

Still, there was one link between England and the 
Continent ; that was the Komish Church, which was soon 
re-established. This brought in foreign ecclesiastics, and 
fortunately some of them had a knowledge of the law of 
Rome. They not only fostered its study in the colleges, 
but, obtaining judicial power as chancellors, where it 
was possible, and against the bitter opposition of the 
other judges, they adopted its more enlightened princi- 
ples in the courts, building up what is known as the sys- 
tem of equity, to correct the crudities, injustice, and ab- 
surdities of the Common Law. When England in time 
became a commercial and manufacturing country, and 
was brought into contact with her more advanced neigh- 
bors, the process went on further. The nations of the 
Continent had formed their jurisprudence on the Civil 
Law : it was taught in their universities, and became the 
basis of all commercial dealings. Hence it was that with 
the development of her commerce and manufactures 
England absorbed more and more of the law of ancient 

As to the character of this law, let us call a few mod- 
ern witnesses. Chancellor Kent says of the Pandects of 
Justinian that, with all their errors and imperfections, 
they " are the greatest repository of sound legal princi- 
ples applied to the private rights and business of man- 
kind that has ever appeared in any age or nation."* Sir 
George Bowyer says : " The corpus of civil law is a ju- 
ridical compilation which contains the whole science of 
3urisprudence."t Roby adds that the Civil Law of Eome 

* Kent's " Commentary," i. 541. 

t " Introduction to the Study of the Civil Law," p. 3. 


is to-day the principal source of private law in all the 
civilized countries of the 'world.* 

" Servatur ubique jus Roraanum nou ratione imperii 
sed imperio rationis."t 

It was upon this foundation that Grotius, of Holland, 
built up the modern system of international law. l^o 
one needs to be told that it was from the law of Eome 
that Lord Mansfield, in the last century, borrowed the 
principles which, though they excited the indignation 
of Junius, have given to his name an imperishable 
renown as the father of English commercial jurispru- 
dence. Within the present century the assimilation has 
been going on more rapidly than ever. Much of the re- 
sult, in America, is due to the efforts of Judge Story, 
whose text-books are filled with illustrations and prin- 
ciples borrowed from the Civil Law. But the work has 
been progressing in all directions. Looking at our legal 
system to-day, it can be said that most things in it con- 
sistent with natural justice come from Rome, and that 
its incongruous, absurd, and unjust features are a sur- 
vival of old English customs and English legislation. 

Such statements as to the influence of the Civil Law 
upon the jurisprudence of England and America may 
seem novel to some readers ; but the whole subject of the 
influence of Rome upon modern society is comparatively 
new. From their early training, in school and college, 
many persons are inclined to regard the hterature and 

* Roby's " Introduction to Justinian's Digest." 

t See also Phillimore's " Introduction to the Study of Roman Law," 
and "Private Law among the Romans." Sir Henry Maine says of 
it : " The Roman law, which, next to the Christian religion, is the most 
plentiful source of the rules governing actual conduct throughout 
Western Europe." — " The Early History of Institutions " (Henry 
Holt, 1888), p. 9. Also Maine's " Ancient Law," passim. 
I.— 5 


the history of Greece and Home as standing on the same 
basis in their relations to modern life : that of impor- 
tance to the scholar, and of insignificance to the so-called 
man of practical affairs. This is a great mistake. We 
speak of the authors of Greece and Eome as equally the 
classics, and are inclined to regard the language, insti- 
tutions, and history of each country as equally dead. 
In fact, they are all living, but in a very different sphere 
of action. It has been well said that no language should 
be called dead which embalms living thoughts. From 
this point of view the Greek will never die, for it is the 
language of poetry, philosophy, and eloquence. In these 
departments it reigns supreme, and here the Roman 
tongue can bear no comparison with it. Hence it was 
that in the revival of learning the Greek classics played 
so great a part as re-civilizers of the world. Some per- 
sons think that their mission is now accomplished, and 
that for the future they may be relegated to the special- 
ists, with the authors of India or Egypt. Whether this 
is so or not we need not here discuss ; I desire now simply 
to call attention to the fact that the literature and his- 
tory of Rome occupy a very different position. The 
Greeks were poets, artists, philosophers ; the Romans 
were essentially practical men, men of action, architects 
of empires, law-givers, moulders of institutions. 

From the historic life of Greece the modern world is 
cut off as by a broad deep sea, although one underlaid 
w^ith electric cables such as now bind the continents 
together. From Rome, however, there is no such sever- 
ance. When the barbaric hordes swept over the Conti- 
nent of Europe, in one sense Rome went down, but in 
another she survived, for she absorbed the conquerors, 
gave them her language and laws, and largely shaped 
their institutions. " All roads lead to Rome," says the 


old motto, and historians are beginning to fully appre- 
ciate, as Freeman has pointed out, that in modern history 
all roads also diverge from the Eternal City. 

So long as the centuries which succeeded the downfall 
of Rome were regarded as periods of almost abysmal 
darkness, sharply dividing ancient from modern civiliza- 
tion and thus unworthy of the attention of the scholar, 
this connection was of course unrecognized. In fact, in 
our school systems the study of Roman history formerly 
ended with the foundation of the Empire. As for Gib- 
bon, whose magnificent work, although incomplete and 
corrected in many places by later investigations, still 
stands as a vast monument of erudition, it was the 
fashion to regard the author as an enemy of religion, 
and his history as a book to be kept from the hands of 
the immature. The result has been that the past gen- 
eration had, in general, but vague notions of the Roman 
Empire, regarding it as the home of tyranny and universal 
corruption, and its barbarian successors as something 
like a devastating flood which swept away all that the 
world had ever known of law, order, and civilization. 

One of the chief instruments in removing this erro- 
neous impression has been the study of the Roman law, 
as carried on in the Continental universities. For many 
years it was believed that the Pandects of Justinian had 
been lost for centuries, and were only discovered at 
Amalfi in 1137. This theory has been thoroughly ex- 
ploded, and the fact established that they were never 
lost, but were always studied and became the chief fac- 
tor in moulding the jurisprudence of the new kingdoms 
of the Continent.* The other theorv, that Rome, under 

* "History of the Roman Law during the Middle Ages," M. de 


the Empire, was the cesspool of corruption depicted by 
some of her historians and satirists has also been shown 
to be unfounded.* 

The Roman law took its form mainly in the first three 
centuries of the Empire. A portion of this period is 
described by Gibbon, in language of great significance, 
as the world's true golden age.f 

Those were what we call heathen times, but it must 
be remembered that, before this law was codified for 
future generations, Rome had accepted Christianity, and 
under its influence great and beneficial changes had 
been introduced, chief among which were those relat- 
ing to the rights and position of women and minors. 
In the sixth century, from 529 to 565, Justinian gath- 
ered up all that was considered valuable in the old and 
new systems, and gave to the world the compilations 

* " History of Rome and the Roman Peoi)le," Victor Duruy, vi. 
309, etc. 

t "If a man were called upon to fix the period in the history of 
the world during which the condition of the human race was most 
happy and prosperous, he would without hesitation name that which 
elapsed from the death of Domitian to the accession of Commodus. 
The vast extent of the Roman Empire was governed by absolute 
power under the guidance of virtue and wisdom. The armies were 
restrained by the firm but gentle hand of five successive emperors, 
"v\'hose character and authority commanded involuntary respect. 
The forms of the civil administration were carefully preserved by 
Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and the Antonines, who delighted in the 
image of liberty and were pleased with considering themselves as 
the accountable ministers of the laws." — Gibbon, vol. i. chap. iii. 
See as to Trajan's time, the Letters of the younger Pliny. One of 
these emperors, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, has left for posterity his 
ideas as to life and its conduct. Nowhere can a nobler philosophy 
be found, inculcating, as it does, self-control, self-abnegation, benev- 
olence, charity, and toleration. 


which, ever since studied upon the Continent, have been 
the dehght and wonder not alone of the jurist, but of 
the philosopher and moralist as well. What compari- 
son could be expected, when men put aside their petty 
prejudices, between such a system and that of the un- 
cultured pagan savages w^ho laid the foundation of the 
English Common Law? From these suggestions the 
reader who is not a lawyer can perhaps understand w^hy 
it is that American students who desire to obtain a pro- 
found knowledge of jurisprudence go to Germany to 
study the Civil Law.* 

. * Tlie unprofessional readei- can scarcely ajDpreciate the rapid 
changes in our legal system now in progress, mainly attributable 
to the fact that we have cut loose from England, from English modes 
of thought and courses of study. At the 250th anniversary of Har- 
vard College, Judge Oliver Wendell Homes, .Jr., of Massachusetts, 
made a notable address before the Law School Association. Speak- 
ing of Judge Story, who was a great student of the Civil Law, and 
who, he said, has done more than any other English-speaking man 
in this century to make the law luminous and easy to understand, 
he remarked : " But Story's simple philosophizing has ceased to sat- 
isfy men's minds. I think it might be said with safety that no man 
of his or of the succeeding generation could have stated the law in a 
form that deserved to abide, because neitlier his nor the succeediuo- 
generation possessed or could have possessed the historical knowl- 
edge, had made or could have made the analyses of principles, which 
are necessary before the cardinal doctrines of the law can be known 
and understood in their precise contours and in their innermost 

" This new work is now being done. Under the influence of Ger- 
many, science is gradually drawing legal history into its sphere. The 
facts are being scrutinized by eyes microscopic in intensity and jjau- 
oramic in scope. At the same time, under the influence of our re- 
vived interest in philosophical speculation, a thousand heads are an- 
alyzing and generalizing the rules of law and the ground on which 
they stand. The law has got to be stated over again, and I venture 


How America has led England in some of the more 
salient legal reforms can be seen from a few examples. 
When the American States adopted their first constitu- 
tions, five of them contained a provision that every 
person accused of crime was to be allowed counsel for 
his defence. The same right was, in 1791, granted for 
all America in the first amendments to the Constitution 
of the United States. This would seem to be an ele- 
mentary principle of justice, but it was not adopted in 
England until nearly half a century later, and then only 
after a bitter struggle, to which I shall refer hereafter. 
Somewhat akin to this is the reverse principle prevail- 
ing in the United States, that in criminal trials the gov- 
ernment shall in every county be represented by a sj)ecial 
public prosecutor, generally called a district attorney. 
ISTothing of this kind is known in England, even at the 
present day, although the introduction of the system has 
been frequently advocated by the highest authorities. 
The last American reform in criminal law is that of 
allowing prisoners to testify in their own behalf. This 
is also now advocated in England.* 

In civil matters, the greatest reform of modern times 
has been the simplification of procedure in the courts, 
and the virtual amalgamation of law and equity. Here 
again America took the lead, through the adoption by 
'New York, in 1848, of a Code of Practice, which has 
been followed by most of the other states of the Union, 
and in its main features has lately been taken up by Eng- 
land. In the same manner have come about the reforms 
in the laws relating to married women, by which a whole 

to say that in fifty years we shall have it in a form of which no man 
could have dreamed fifty years ago." 

* See article by Justice J. F. Stephen, Nineteenth Century^ Oct., 


sex has been emancipated. According to the old Eng~ 
lish theory, a woman was a chattel, all of whose property- 
belonged to her husband. He could beat her as he might 
a beast of burden, and, provided that he w^as not guilty 
of what would be cruelty to animals, the law gave no 
redress. In the emancipation of women Mississippi led 
off, in 1839, New York following with its Married Wom- 
en's Act of 1848, which has been since so enlarged and 
extended, and so generally adopted by the other states, 
that, for all purposes of business, ownership of property, 
and claim to her individual earnings, a married woman 
is to-day, in America, as independent as a man. In some 
respects we are still behind the Continental nations of 
Europe, w4iich recognize the oneness of man and wife by 
providing that a husband shall not will away his prop- 
erty from the woman w^ho has aided in its acquisition. 
That law, and the further one that a man shall not dis- 
inherit his children without just cause, both derived from 
the jurisprudence of Rome, will come in time ; but for 
no such reforms, either past or present, need we look to 
English precedents. 

With the law we may close for the present our com- 
parison of English and American institutions. The 
contrast between them is so striking that the deriva- 
tion of one from the other seems almost incredible. 
Nor is this contrast the result of any recent change in 
either country. As we have seen, it reaches back to 
the first settlement of New England, and has developed 
simply on its original lines. Here the spirit of the insti- 
tutions has always pointed to equality and the elevation 
of all classes through the machinery of the government. 
In England, on the other hand, with rare exceptions un- 
til very modern times, the government has been conduct- 
ed in the interest of the so-called upper classes — that is, 


the few persons whose ancestors took possession of the 
land, the church, the machinery of the courts, the legis- 
lature, and the executive, and those who, in later days, 
have acquired wealth by trade. "-^ The people have never 
been recognized, except for the few years when the Pu- 
ritans held sway. The striking fact to-day is, that the 
masses are rising up, and are bound to make their long- 
buried grievances acknowledged. The new England to 
be evolved from the coming change may not be so pict- 
uresque ; for vast estates and lordly castles, set off by 
moss-covered noisome hovels and troops of beggars, do 
certainly form picturesque objects in a landscape ; but 
the general happiness, the object of modern civiliza- 
tion, may be the gainer.f 

Much we owe to England, and the debt will never be 
ignored or outlawed. We have her vigorous language, 
are sharers of her noble literature, have many of her 
customs and modes of thought, and claim to inherit 
some of her indomitable energy, practical sagacity, hab- 
its of organization, and general love of fair play and 
open speech. In little things, too, often regarded as 
peculiar to America, we are only preserving old Eng- 
lish forms and customs. For example, when a vigi- 
lance committee in the South or West decorate an ob- 
noxious stranger with a coat of tar and feathers, they 

* One of these rare exceptions occurred iu tlie reign of Henry VIII., 
■u'lio, however he may have trampled on the rich and jiowerful, en- 
deared himself to the people at large, to an extent whicli the pres- 
ent generation find it difficult to understand, by his protection of the 
poor. Gneist's "Hist, of the English Constitution," ii. 187. 

t The coming change in England will probably be a peaceful one, 
for the practical Englishmen, unlike some of their neighbors, have 
a happy faculty of solving political problems when their solution 
becomes imperative. 


are only exercising a form of English hospitality prac- 
tised in the seventeenth century.* When the Yankee 
says " I guess," he is but using the English of Chau- 
cer and Shakespeare.f So when he speaks of "fall" in- 
stead of autumn, he is following Dryden.:}: In calling 
a person "homely" instead of plain, he has the war- 
rant of ]VIilton.§ So " whittle " is found to be old ; || 
" slick " also,^[ "freshet,"** and many other so-called 

There is no danger of the reader's underestimating the 
influence of England upon America, or the great virtues 
of the English people. But these subjects, important as 
they are in themselves, have no bearing upon the ques- 
tion which I have undertaken to discuss — ^the origin 
of our republican institutions. These institutions have 
moulded, and will serve hereafter to mould, the na- 
tion's life. The questions how and whence they came 
to America should interest not alone the scholar, but 
every one who cares for the future of his country. The 
past holds for us something beyond the mere pleasure 
of a romance. It lays before us as a lesson the experi- 

* Int. to Lowell's " Biglovv Papers," vol. ii. 
t " Of twenty yere of age he was, I gesse." — Chaucer. 

"Better far, I guess, 
That we do make our entrance several ways." 

" 1st Part Henry VI.," act ii. so. 1. 
J " What crowds of patients the town doctor kills ; 

Or how last fall he raised the weekly bills." 
§ " It is for homely features to keep home. 

They had their name hence." — Milton, "Comus." 
II In " Hakewith on Providence," 1627, given by Johnson. 
IF Used by Chapman, 1603, Sir Thomas Browne, and Fuller. 
** " All fisli from sea or shore, 

Freshet or purling brook." — Milton. 


ence of other nations ; of those alone who have the sa- 
gacity to profit by that experience can it be said that 
" histories make men wise." 


The method in which this subject has been heretofore 
generally treated is familiar to every reader, and it is a 
method which has at least the merit of simplicity, obvi- 
ating the necessity of all original investigation. Look- 
ing back at American literature, we find that, to all ques- 
tions regarding the origin of our un-English institutions, 
the stock-answer has been returned, that they were in- 
vented by those mysterious and inspired prophetic souls 
w^ho founded Massachusetts. Of all the fabled heroes 
of antiquity, architects of empires, or benefactors of the 
human race, none, in popular opinion, have ever equalled 
in depth of thought and fecundity of invention the plain 
artisans and farmers who crossed the ocean in the Ifay- 
fiowei\ or those who followed them in the next few years. 
What a marvellous magician's bath the Atlantic must 
have been two centuries and a half ago, when even a 
sail across its waters could work such miracles ! If any 
other nation succeeds in originating a single great in- 
stitution in an ordinary lifetime, it gains historic fame. 
In this case, the mere voyage from England sufficed, we 
are expected to believe, for the invention of at least three 
of the first magnitude. 

At the head of the list stands the free-school system of 
the United States. For this claim we have the authority 
of James Russell Lowell, who calls it the invention of our 
Puritan ancestors in Massachusetts.'^' The second is the 
township system. This also originated in the same quar- 
ter, according to Palfrey, the historian of New Eng- 

* Essay on " New England Two Hundred Years Ago," Among 
My Books. 


land.* The third is the system of recording deeds and 
mortgages. This also is claimed to have been devised 
in America, presumably in Massachusetts.f As the set- 
tlers of New England certainly did possess these impor- 
tant institutions, while the Englishmen at home as cer- 
tainly did not, the inference that they were invented in 
America is a natural one, if we set out with the assump- 
tion that England is the only other country in the world. 
However, a little light is thrown upon the subject Avhen 
we learn that free schools existed, not only among the 
Komans, but among the Moors nine centuries ago; that 
the township system prevailed in Central Asia probably 
before the dispersion of the human race, and now exists 
in upper India; and that deeds were recorded in Egypt 
long before the Christian era. 

These are but specimens of American institutions, 
and simple illustrations of the ordinary mode of dealing 
with their history by modern writers, for we may notice 
that our ancestors never made such claims. Some per- 
sons might think that it was characteristic Yankee tall- 
talk, indulged in only among uneducated people, to credit 
their origin to Massachusetts and to transplanted Eng- 
lishmen ; but this, as we have already seen, is incor- 
rect. Most English and all American histories have 
been written after the same model.:}; 

* i. 275. 

t "New American Cyclopsedia," article "Recording." 
I Another example will illustrate this even more fully. In 1836, 
Edward Everett delivered an address in commemoration of the two 
hundredth anniversary of the founding of Harvard College. Refer- 
ring to tlie appropriation by the General Court of Massachusetts of 
the sum of four hundred pounds for the establishment of tliat insti- 
tution, he said : " I must appeal to gentlemen around me, whether 
before the year 1636 they know of such a thing as a grant of money 


In all this there is nothing remarkable ; for to persons 
accustomed from early education never to look beyond 
Great Britain for anything American, our institutions, 
when not recognized as English, may well seem to be 
originaL In addition is the fact that such a mode of 
dealing with one's ancestors has, until a recent date, 
seemed patriotic among all nations. It is to be hoped, 
however, that to the present generation, extending its 
researches in all directions, these institutions will not be 
less dear or less important because found to have about 
them some of the halo of republican antiquity, reaching 
back further than the voyage of the immortsil J/ayJIowe?'. 

We speak of this as the " new world," but geologically 
it is the old. Modern scientists, in studying the records 
furnished by the rocks, have discovered that it was in 
being when Europe was submerged beneath the waves. 

by the English House of Commons to found or endow a place of edu- 
cation. I think there is no such grant before tliat period, nor till 
long after; and therefore I believe it is strictly within the bounds of 
truth to say that the General Court of Massachusetts, which met in 
September, 1636, is the first body in which the people by their repre- 
sentatives ever gave their own money to found a place of education." 
The same kind of language was used at the 250th anniversary in 1886. 
No such tiling being known in England, therefore it never existed. 
"We shall see hereafter how, half a century before the time of which 
Mr. Everett spoke, the people of Holland, through their represent- 
atives, had given all the buildings and a magnificent endowment 
for the establishment of two free universities, one of which (that of 
Leyden) is among the most distinguished in the world. Many of 
the men who settled in Massachusetts came from Leyden, and Har- 
vard College itself was established on land settled by colonists led 
by Tliomas Hooker, a refugee English preacher who had lived in 
Holland for three years. Strange enough such language as that of 
the Governor of Massachusetts would have sounded to the men. who 
made the grant of four hundred pounds. 


So of our system of government. The political move- 
ments of the last century have worked such changes 
across the ocean that to-day the Constitution of the 
United States is almost the oldest in existence outside 
of Asia. But our leading institutions go back much 
further. When historians come to study them, as they 
have studied dynasties, they will find that here also 
America is the old and much of Europe the new bar- 
baric world. In the construction of the republic, our 
fathers had the same advantages which a man of fortune 
possesses who sets out to build a new house. Although 
not rich in gold, they were the heirs of all the wisdom 
of the ages. They were hampered by no old structure 
to be modernized, and by no old materials to be put to 
use. A continent lay before them on which to build ; 
the whole world was their quarry, and all the past their 
architects. They showed marvellous skill, wisdom, and 
foresight in the selection of their plans, in the choice of 
their materials, and in their methods of construction. 
All this is honor enough, without endowing them with 
the lamp of an Aladdin or the wand of a magician. 

Taking the word in its broad sense, the institutions of 
America are largely Puritan, so that we must look to the 
growth of Puritanism to understand their introduction. 
But when we seek for their origin, we should send our 
thoughts far beyond the little island of England or the 
narrow confines of Massachusetts. N^ational institutions 
are like great trees standing in a field, which, though 
showing only a trunk and branches above the surface, 
have another frame as large spreading through the soil 
below. Those of America shelter to-day over sixty 
million people. Their roots are too large to be contained 
in any one small quarter of the globe. 

Two great elements have contributed to make Amer- 


ica what it is : one, the civilization of ancient Rome, 
with its genius for government and its instinct for 
justice and equal rights ; the other, the strong wild 
blood of the Germanic race, with its passion for indi- 
vidual freedom, which has given nerve, energy, and 
strength to modern Europe. The first of these elements 
was utterly extinguished in England by the Anglo-Saxon 
conquest, while the feudal system afterwards came in 
to rob the Germanic conquerors of many of their early 
ideas regarding civil liberty. 

One country alone in Northern Europe was largely 
free from both this devastation and this blight. There 
the civilization of Rome was never extinguished, and 
the feudal system took but feeble root. The people 
were of Germanic blood, and preserved more purely 
than any others their Germanic ideas and institutions ; 
but engrafted on them were the arts, the learning, and 
the laws derived from communication with civilized 
and civilizing Italy. To the patriot, to the lover of civil 
and religious liberty, as well as to the student of art and 
science in any land, the history of this republican country 
must always have a peculiar charm. But, apart from its 
general features, this history is so interwoven with that 
of England and America that any one concerned with 
the past of either of these countries w411 find it a subject 
of unfailing interest. 

When modern Englishmen set out to write the history 
of their country, they cross the Channel and describe 
the Angles and the Saxons in their early home upon the 
Continent.* That home was so near to the ISTetherlands 
that the people of Holland and the conquerors of Britain 

* See Green's "Making of England," Stubb's " Constitutional His- 
tory," etc. 


spoke substantially the same language, and were almost 
of one blood. To the Englishman, thinking only of the 
greatness of his own land, this original relationship may 
seem sufficient honor for a tiny fragment of the earth's 
surface not as large as Switzerland, but it is only the 
first chapter of the story. For hundreds of years in 
later times, and until long after the settlement of Amer- 
ica, the Netherlands stood as the guide and instructor 
of England in almost everything which has made her 
materially great. "When the Reformation came in which 
Northwestern Europe was new^-born, it was the Nether- 
lands which led the van, and for eighty years w^aged the 
war which disenthralled the souls of men. Out of that 
conflict, shared by thousands of heroic Englishmen, but 
in w^hich England as a nation hardly had a place, Puri- 
tanism was evolved — the Puritanism which gave its 
triumph to the Netherland Republic, and has shaped the 
character of the English-speaking race. 

In time, England came to hate the benefactor to whom 
she owed so much, and some of her people have repaid 
their debt in a manner not uncommon in such cases. 
Thus, after the Restoration of the Stuarts, and still 
more after the Tory reaction which followed the 
Revolution of 1688, the political writers about the court 
habitually ridiculed the Dutchmen for virtues which 
they could not understand. The republican Hollander 
thought it a disgrace to have his wife or daughter de- 
bauched by a king or noble. The courtiers about 
Charles II. viewed this subject differently, and regarded 
the Dutchman as ill-mannered for his want of taste.* 

* In Holland, -where he passed part of his days of exile, Charles 
and his courtiers were constantly and openly rebuked for their licen- 
tious and profligate habits. These rebukes were as little relished 


Added to this were the Hollander's respect for the pri- 
vate rights of all classes ; his devotion to art and learn- 
ing ; his love of fair dealing in personal and in public 
matters ; his industry, frugality ; and, finally, his univer- 
sal toleration. A man with these traits of character, al- 
though sympathetic with the English Puritan on many 
points, was hardly comprehensible to the ruling classes 
in England two centuries and a half ago. No one could 
deny the Dutchmen's courage, for they were among the 
boldest soldiers and sailors that the world has ever seen ; 
but they were not gentlemen from the aristocratic point 
of view. 

As for the Englishmen of the Eestoration, one little 
incident will illustrate what they thought high breed- 
ing. Sir William Temple, as is well known, was one • 
of the most elegant and accomplished gentlemen at the 
Court of Charles II. — a wit among the courtiers, and a 
courtier among the wits.* Being sent as ambassador 
to The Hague, he fortunately jotted down some of his 
experiences, and among others the following. Dining 
one day with the Chief Burgomaster of Amsterdam, 
and having a severe cold, he noticed that every time 
he spit on the floor, while at table, a tight, handsome 
wench, who stood in a corner holding a cloth, got down 
on her knees and wiped it up. Seeing this, he turned 
to his host and apologized for the trouble which he gave, 
receiving the jocular response, " It is well for you that 

and as little forgiven by the "merry monarch " as was the stern dis- 
cipline to which he was subjected in Scotland during his early life. 
Rogers's " Story of Holland," p. 257 ; Davies, iii. 12. No reader 
needs to be reminded how many of the noble families of England 
are descended from illegitimate scions of royalty, and how they prize 
their ancestry. 

* Macaulay's Essays, " Sir William Temple." 


my wife is not home, for she would have turned you 
out of the house for soiling her floor, although you 
are the English ambassador." This incident, he says, 
" illustrates the authority of women in Holland." That 
it conveyed no other lesson to his mind gives us a bet- 
ter idea of the manners of the English upper classes 
two centuries ago than pages of description.* Hallam, 
writing of England in the time of Elizabeth, says : 
" Hypocritical adulation was so much among the vices 
of that age, that the want of it passed for rudeness." f 
It was this form of rudeness in the Hollander, and not 
what would be called bad manners to-day, that was found 
objectionable by the English. 

"When we now remember that England and Holland 
became commercial rivals, and that England has never 
scrupled at anything to crush out a competitor, we need 
not wonder at the national prejudice towards the Dutch- 
man, whose virtues, developed under a republic, were a 
standing protest against a government for the upper 
classes alone. In 1673, Chancellor Shaftesbury, in an 
address to Parliament, summed up the whole case against 
Holland. It was an enemy of all monarchies, especially 
the English; their only competitor in commerce and 
naval power, and the chief obstacle to the universal do- 
minion which England should aim at : Delenda esto Car- 
thago. Such a government must be destroyed.;}: 

Such, in brief outline, is the origin of the Englishman's 
antipathy to the Dutch; an antipathy which in great 

* "Memoirs of what Passed in Christendom from 1672 to 1679 " 
Sir William Temple's Works, ii. 458. See also Felltham's " Re- 
solves;" "Observations on the Lovr Countries," 12th ed. (London, 
1709), p. 609. 

t "Const. Hist."i. 277. 

X " Parlt. Hist." vol. iv. col. 504, cited by Davies. 


measure had led to a general disparagement of this peo- 
ple, and thus to obscuring the truth of history ; although 
to such an exhibition of national prejudice there have 
always been illustrious exceptions.* 

That the American of English descent should, in for- 
mer times, have shown some of this prejudice is in no 
ways remarkable, since he knew little of the facts. But 
his indulgence in the disparagement at the present day, 
wdien all the records are accessible, is a A^ery different 
matter, for it is to the country of this republican people, 

* What some of the able Englishmen of the seventeenth century 
thought of them will be shown in a late chapter. As to those of 
modern times, the first whom we may notice is Samuel Rogers, the 
poet. He, in the notes to his " Italy," joays a high tribute to the 
Dutch Republic, as superior to Venice, saying that it produced 
" not only the greatest seamen, but the greatest lawyers, the greatest 
physicians, the most accomplislied scholars, the most skilful paint- 
ers, and statesmen as wise as they were just." Hallam, an able and 
certainly not a prejudiced judge, says that Holland, "at the end of 
the sixteenth century and for many years afterwards, was pre-emi- 
nently the literary country of Europe," and all through the seven- 
teenth century was the peculiarly learned country also. The Dutch 
\vere " a great people, a people fertile of men of various ability and 
erudition, a peoj^le of scholars, of theologians and philosophers, of 
mathematicians, of historians, and we may add of poets." — Hallam's 
" Literature of Europe," iii. 278, iv. 59. J^Iacaulay, writing of the 
period just before the English revolution of 1688, says that the aspect 
of Holland " produced on English travellers of that age an effect 
similar to the effect which tlie first sight of England now produces on 
a Norwegian or a Canadian." " History of England," chap. ii. Still 
fuller is the tribute of the last English writer upon Holland, a mem- 
ber of Parliament and a professor of political economy at Oxford. 
He claims that the revolt of the Netherlands and the success of Hol- 
land is the beginning of modern civilization, the Dutch having 
taught Europe nearly everything which it knows. "The Story of 
Holland," by James E. Thorold Rogers, pp. 10, 11. 


in many respects so like his own, but so different from 
England, that he must turn if he would understand the 
making of the United States, 

ISTor is it only to the republicans of America or the 
students of the past that this country is of interest. 
The story of the rise and development of the Nether- 
lands should be known to every one who cares about 
the political, social, and economic questions which now 
ag-itate the world. Does one wish to see what local 
self-government can do for a people, nowhere can he 
find a better example of its strength than in the cities 
which made up the great Netherland Kepublic. Does 
he, on the other hand, wish to see the weakness of a 
federation in which the general government does not 
deal directly with the citizen, but only with organic 
bodies of the State ; nowhere, not even in the confed- 
eration w^hich preceded our American Union, Avill he 
find a better illustration than that afforded by the 
same republic in its early days. When we turn to 
other questions, social and economic, a still broader 
field is opened up. The history of this country, when 
rightly understood, probably disposes of more popular 
delusions and throws more light upon the future of 
democracy than that of any other country in the world. 
However, as it has been the interest of the so-called 
upper classes to foster these delusions, perhaps we should 
not wonder at the little attention bestowed upon this 

What, for example, becomes of the standing argu- 
ments for an aristocracy and for men of leisure Avhen 
we turn on them the light from Holland? English 
writers are accustomed to tell us that art and science 
owe their encouragement to the existence of the noble 
orders, and that but for their example fine manners and 


lofty thought Avould vanish from the earth, Nowhere 
can be found a better illustration of the defective rea- 
soning which draws general conclusions from insufficient 
data. In England, this has appeared to be the fact, 
because in that country the aristocracy have largely 
absorbed the wealth and education which enable men 
to foster art and science. Yet England, until a very 
recent day at least, has done almost nothing for art, 
and in science and deep scholarship could never be com- 
pared with Holland in her palmy days. But Holland 
owed her pre-eminence in these departments, not to an 
aristocracy, nor even to a moneyed class whose inher- 
ited wealth led them to abstain from business. The men 
■who sustained her painters and musicians, who fostered 
science and broad learning, were the plain burghers in 
the cities, merchants, and manufacturers, men w^hom 
Queen Elizabeth called "base mechanicals," who aU 
worked themselves, and by example or by precept taught 
that labor alone is honorable. In this connection a sin- 
gle incident will show how mathematics were cultivated 
in the ISTetherlands. 

In 161Y, a young French soldier, serving in the Dutch 
army, was passing through the streets of Breda. A 
crowd was gathered on a corner, and he pushed forward 
to learn the cause of the excitement. Its members were 
all studying a paper posted on a wall, and talking about 
its contents. As he did not understand the language, 
he asked a by-stander to translate it for him into French 
or Latin. The paper contained an abstruse mathemat- 
ical problem, which in this way had been submitted to 
the public for solution. The soldier obtained his trans- 
lation, went to his quarters, and a few days afterwards 
sent in the correct answer, signed "Descartes." This 
was the introduction to the world of the greatest philos- 


opher and mathematician of the age, whose transcen- 
dent ability was at once recognized in Holland.* Can 
the reader imagine such an occurrence as this in the 
England of the Stuarts ? A crowd might have gathered 
there to see a bull-baiting or a dog-fight, but never to 
study a problem in mathematics. 

As for the nobility of character and loftiness of 
thought supposed to be encouraged by an hereditary 
aristocracy, the contrast is no less striking. When Eliz- 
abeth sent a little army to the Netherlands to assist in 
the war with Spain, there was hardly one of her cap- 
tains, no matter how high his rank, who did not swin- 
dle in his pay-rolls, until Prince Maurice detected and 
stopped the fraud.f As for the nobles at home, under 
Elizabeth and her successor, many of them who bore the 
most illustrious names, and occupied the highest social 
position, were then, like their descendants for genera- 
tions afterwards, always up for sale. They took bribes 
from every quarter, even from the enemy, and never 
seemed to suffer in the public estimation when detected. :j; 
How, during the war in the Netherlands, some of her of- 
ficers sold out the fortresses committed to their charo'e, 
and how Elizabeth herself was always attempting to 
betray her Protestant allies, we shall see hereafter. 

Turning now to Holland, republican Holland, the 
country of the " base mechanicals," the opposing record 
is a very brief one. Never in war or peace, though 
Spain was lavish of promises and a master of corrup- 
tion, was a native Hollander bought with gold.§ The 

* "John de V^itt," by James Geddes, p. 35. 
t Motley's " United Netheriands," iii. 98, 99. 
J Ibid., iv. 480, etc. 
§ Davies's " Holland," ii. 656. 


Dutch officials were of a class very different from that 
encountered at the English Court. When, in 1608, the 
Spanish ambassadors were on their way to negotiate a 
treaty at The Hague, the}^ saw eight or ten persons land 
from a little boat, and, sitting down on the grass, make 
a meal of bread and cheese and beer. " Who are these 
travellers V said the Spaniards to a peasant. " They are 
the deputies from the States," he answered, "our sov- 
ereign lords and masters." " Then we must make peace," 
they cried ; " these are not men to be conquered !"* 

It was not alone upon the land, nor among the upper 
classes, that we mark the contrast between the English 
and Dutch ideas of official honesty. In 1656, two Span- 
ish treasure - ships were captured by Cromwell's navy. 
They were said to have contained about a million ster- 
ling, but when brought into port two thirds of the booty 
was missing, having been stolen by the officers and men. 
One captain, it was reported, secured about sixty thou- 
sand pounds.f In 1628, the Dutch navy had also capt- 
ured a Spanish treasure-fleet, containing silver and gold 
valued at over twelve million florins.:}: Bringing his 
prize into port and having turned over all the treasure 
to the government, Peterson Heyn, the admiral, who 
had begun life as a common sailor, Avas asked to name 
his own reward. He answered that he wished for no re- 
ward in money, having only done his duty to the State ; 
but that he would like permission to retire to private 

* Voltaire, quoted in " Notes to Rogers's Italy." 

t Guizot's " Cromwell," p. 370. 

J About a million sterling. 

§ Davies's "Holland," ii. 573. He was not permitted to retire, 
but was made lieutenant admiral, and two years later died glori- 
ously in battle. He was buried at Delft, near William of Orange. 


Such men as these, who were not exceptional, but only 
types, the English ruling classes understood as little as 
some of their descendants understood Washington and 
Lincoln when alive. Admiral De Ruyter, one of the 
greatest naval heroes of all time, who began life as a 
rope-maker, was found by the French Count de Guiche, 
on the morning after his four days' battle with the 
English fleet, feeding his chickens and sweeping out his 
cabin. William of Orange, when at the height of his 
authority, mingled with the common people, wearing the 
woollen waistcoat of a bargeman, and an old mantle 
which a student would have pronounced threadbare.* 
The naval commanders of England, who, in the main, 
were nothing more than pirates, looked down on the 
simple-minded Dutchmen, who wanted no reward but 
the consciousness of having done their duty. The court- 
iers around Elizabeth and her successors, who wore their 
fortunes on their backs, and thought any mode of get- 
ting money honorable except to labor for it, sneered at 
the republicans who hung the walls of their houses with 
the choicest paintings, cultivated music, studied science 
and the classics, and were the greatest soldiers and sail- 
ors of the age, but went about in plain clothing, dis- 
pensed exact justice to poor and rich alike, cared for 
the unfortunate, and frowned on idleness and vice. The 
world, however, has moved in the last three centuries, 
although this feeling has, in some quarters, not entirely 

In the preceding pages I have attempted to show how 
riadically the leading institutions of America differ from 
those of England. To trace the origin of these insti- 

* Taine, " Brooke's Sidney," p. 16 et seq. 


tutions is to tell the story of Puritanism in the Neth- 
erlands, where the Puritan, with his centuries of civili- 
zation and self-government behind him, was of a very- 
different type from his brother across the Channel. To 
show how they came to America is to tell the story of 
the English Puritan, much of which relating to his men- 
tal and moral environments, and the influences which 
shaped his character, giving it some unlovely features, 
never has been attempted. 

These lines of investigation constantly cross each oth- 
er; for the period of the great struggle for civil and 
religious liberty in the Netherlands, out of which the 
Puritan in Holland was evolved, also gave birth to the 
English Puritan, and to the settlement of what is now 
the United States. It is only by looking at the whole 
story together, and keeping in mind the connection of 
its different parts, that we can understand how the 
American Pepublic, the foundations of which were laid 
by the Pilgrim Fathers, was influenced by its prototype 
on the other side of the Atlantic. I hope, therefore, 
that the reader will pardon me if in some places I lead 
him over familiar fields, although my path, especially 
in England, will present views somewhat different from 
those generally given by historians.* 

* To some readers it may appear that in my early chapters too 
much space has been given to the affairs of the Netherlands, which 
Motley is supposed to have made familiar to the public. This criti- 
cism might have more force if I could assume that all my readers 
would be fresh from the study of ]\Iotley's woi'ks. But even among 
historical scholars I am inclined to think that many have had an 
experience like mine. When I read " The Rise of the Dutch Repub- 
lic," at its first appearance, I thought many portions of it too highly 
colored. The author did not, to my satisfaction, explain why this 


people should exhibit such heroic traits of character, and develop 
so high a form of civilization as compared with that of their con- 
temporaries in other lands. These questions, perhaps, seemed of 
little materiality to the historian who, from the original records, was 
writing the story of a single epoch. For my purposes, however, it 
has been necessary to go back of the inception of the struggle with 
Spain, and to seek out the origin and nature of the national institu- 
tions and characteristics which gave strength to the insurgents, de- 
veloped their civilization, and led to their influence on England and 
America. In doing this, I have become fully satisfied of the sub- 
stantial fidelity of Motley's narrative, while I have also become con- 
vinced that the comparatively little eflfect produced by his works on 
modern historical thought, as shown in the histories of other coun- 
tries, especially those of England and America, is largely due to the 
absence of what he has omitted. Some of these omissions I have 
attempted to supply, and, to make the result at all intelligible, the 
repetition of a portion of the narrative has seemed to me essential. 




It has been customary among modern writers, when 
treating of the Puritans, to confine their use of the name 
to Eno-lishmen or their descendants in America. But the 
word, when first originated, had no such restricted mean- 
ing. It came into the English language during the early 
days of Elizabeth, and was constantly employed through- 
out the reigns of the first two Stuarts. Its meaning in 
the country of its origin was changed from time to time, 
but it was always applied to a type of man which was 
not peculiar to England.* Hence it was that, while Eliz- 
abeth and James I. were on the throne, men in Holland 
were called Puritans, both by Hollanders and English- 
men, equally with men of the same class in England ; 
and in modern times Motley has used the name in the 
same raanner.f Supported by these precedents, I have 
in this work given to the words Puritan and Puritan- 
ism a broader significance than that usually accorded to 

* See Preface, p. ix. "Wlien I come to consider the cleveloi:)ment of 
English Puritanism, I shall show how the name originated, and what 
meanings were attached to it at various periods. 

t Motley's "United Netherlands," ii. 123; "Life of Barneveld," ii. 
119, 284, 285. 


In many of his characteristics the Puritan was as old 
as history itself. In almost every clime and age men 
have stood up to advocate reforms, and by their lives to 
protest against the immorality and corruption of the 
society about them. But the peculiar characteristic of 
the Puritan, distinguishing him from prior reformers in 
Church or State, was his religious belief. He was the 
child of the Peformation, and it is therefore to the teach- 
ings of the Reformation that we must look for his origin. 

But although the Reformation produced the Puritan, 
it wrouo'ht no miracle in the nature of the men whom it 
affected. If it found them ignorant and narrow-minded, 
it did not at once make them learned and liberal in their 
ideas. On the contrary, its first effects were rather in 
the opposite direction, intensifying some of their natural 
failings. Like all other . great spiritual revolutions, it 
took men as it found them, and developed them on their 
original lines. In tlie end it broadened their ideas, and, 
by teaching them the equality of man in the eyes of his 
Creator, led up to the lesson of human equality on earth. 
But such lessons bear their fruit very slowly ; and had 
the world waited until their development in England, its 
modern harvest might have been long deferred. 

The Puritan of England followed, but after a consid- 
erable interval, his prototype in Holland. He borrowed 
from Holland many of the ideas and institutions which 
he attempted to introduce into England, and with which 
he succeeded in the United States. Although in each 
country he was the product of the Reformation, it was 
the Reformation engrafted on the past. It is therefore 
to their respective pasts that we must look if we would 
understand why the Puritans of Holland differed so 
widely from those of England, and how the one came to 
affect the other. To the American of English descent 


such an examination should be of pecuhar interest, for 
in tracing the development of the Hollanders, he is not 
following the records of an alien race. They were of sub- 
stantially the same blood as his English ancestors ; so that, 
in comparing the past of the two, he is simply seeing how 
his own kith and kin developed under the influence of 
different natural environments and different institutions. 

Beginning now with the country of the elder and 
more matured civilization, let us first consider the in- 
fluences which shaped the character of the Puritan of 
the ISTetherlands. Following this we shall, in these early 
chapters, see something of the struggle with Spain, in 
which that character was developed, down to the time 
when the Puritans of England came under the direct in- 
fluence of their brethren across the Channel. 

In the middle of the sixteenth century, the Nether- 
lands, or Low Countries, as they were often called, con- 
sisted of seventeen separate provinces, which together 
covered a territory about half the size of England. As 
the result of their great revolt from Spain, this little 
tract of land was divided into two nearly equal portions. 
The ten southern Catholic provinces, now composing 
Belgium, continued under their foreign ruler. The 
northern seven, which were Protestant, by the most re- 
markable war in history — a war waged by sea and land 
for eighty years — were welded into the great Dutch Ee- 
public, called the United Netherlands, and sometimes 
Holland, after the name of the largest state of the con- 
federacy. This republic, with its thirteen thousand 
square miles of surface, formed but a patch upon the 
map of Europe : England alone is four times as large, 
Great Britain and Ireland ten times, Erance nearly 
twenty, Europe three hundred ; Switzerland is larger ; 
historic Greece was half as large again. 


The improvements of modern science, especially in the 
machinery of war, together with the general progress 
of societ}'", have a tendency to equalize men, and give 
countries rank according to their size and population. 
It therefore seems strange to us that within three cen- 
turies the world should have been led by a people who 
occupied so minute a subdivision of its surface. The 
lirst glance at the character of their country would have 
a tendency to add to this surprise, for, picturing it as it 
appeared in early days, one would ask how man ever re- 
duced it to subjection. Then, however, would follow the 
thought that a race which could conquer this cross be- 
tween the earth and the sea might, with one element in 
either hand, easily control the world. 

The JSTetherlands are largely composed of the alluvial 
deposit of the Meuse, the Scheldt, and the Khine. For 
countless ages these rivers poured into the German 
Ocean the soil of France and Germany, building up the 
mainland, as the Nile has done in the Mediterranean, 
and the Mississippi in the Gulf of Mexico. The sea in 
return cast up its dunes and sand-banks. Back of these, 
and behind the hardening slime which the rivers heaped 
up from side to side as they straggled on their course, 
most of the country was a broad morass. Here and 
there were islands which seemed to float on the surface 
of the ooze, tracts of brushwood, forests of pine, oak, 
and alder, while tempestuous lakes filled in the picture. 
Along the coast appeared a succession of deep bays and 
gulfs, through which the Northern Ocean swept in re- 
sistless fury. At length, the wearied rivers appear to 
have given up the contest, and lost themselves, wander- 
ing helplessly amid the marshes. Then man took up 
the struggle. Little by little the land was rescued; 
dikes chained the ocean and curbed the rivers in their 


channels ; lakes were emptied, canals furrowed, and even 
the soil itself created. 

In this warfare with the elements, the brunt of the 
contest fell on the hollow-land, or Holland. It had no 
iron — in fact, no metal of any kind — for tools, and no 
stone for houses or for dikes. Even wood was wanting, 
for the early forests had been destroyed by tempests. To 
this country nature seemed to have denied nearly all her 
gifts ; so that, almost disinherited at birth, it stands a vast 
monument to the courage, industry, and energy of an 
indomitable people. From end to end it is to-day a 
frowning fortress, keeping watch and ward against its 
ancient enemy, the sea.* In great part it lies below the 
water level. Even now inundations ever threaten ruin. 
One who has seen the liorth Sea in a fury can imagine 
what such perils were in the earlier days when science 
was in its infancy. Time after time whole districts have 
been submerged, cities swallowed up — twenty, eighty, a 
hundred thousand persons disappearing in a night. So 
marked have been the transformations from this cause 
that a map of Holland as it existed eight hundred 
ago would not be recognized to-day. f 

* The coast of Harlem is protected by a dike of Norway granite, 
five miles in length and forty feet in height, which is buried two 
hundred feet beneath the waves. Amsterdam is built entirely on 
piles, frequently thirty feet long. The foundations of every town 
and village in Friesland are artificial constructions. It is estimated 
that seven and a half billions of francs have been expended on pro- 
tective work between the Scheldt and the Dollart. Taine's "Art in 
the Netherlands," pp. 39, 40. 

^Edbibuvgh i?CTiew?, Oct., 1847, p. 426; "Holland and its People," 
De Amicis ; Taine's " Art in the Netherlands," Durand's transl., p. 38, 
and authorities cited. This change has been going on in the whole 
of the Netherlands. For example, Ghent was a seaport in the ninth 
century, and Bruges in the twelfth. 


Still, man remained the conqueror. On this patch of 
manufactured earth was realized the boast of Archime- 
des. The little republic, just come to maturity when 
America was settled, vanquished and well-nigh de- 
stroyed the mightiest military power of Europe. Short- 
ly afterwards, it met the combined forces of Charles II. 
and Louis XIY. of France. As a colonizer it ranks sec- 
ond to England alone, reaching out to Java, Sumatra, 
Hindostan, Ceylon, New Holland, Japan, Brazil, Guiana, 
the Cape of Good Hope, the West Indies, and jSTew York. 
To-day the waste which the ancients looked on as unin- 
habitable is among the most fertile, the wealthiest, and 
most populous regions of the world ; its people stand the 
foremost in Europe for general intelligence and purity 
of morals.^-' 

It is very evident that these Ketherlanders must have 
had a remarkable history. That history can only be un- 
derstood by always bearing in mind the natural surround- 
ings and conditions of existence in this peculiar land. 
The destinies of every people are determined, to a great 
extent, by the soil, climate, and geographical configura- 
tion of their country ; but these influences differ in in- 
tensity, and hence in the manner and rapidity, with 
which they accomplish great results. Thus it is that the 
question of geographical situation becomes of more im- 
portance in the history of some nations than in that of 
others, although this truth is not always given its due 

For example, the whole story of the English people 
centres around the fact that they have lived in an island 

* Proportions considered, there are fewer persons in Holland igno- 
rant of the alphabet than in Prussia. " Holland and its People," 
De Amicis, p. 157, Amer. ed. 


fortress, where, since the Norman Conquest, they have 
been secure from Continental invasion and left to work 
out their own problems substantially undisturbed. Such 
a position of separation from the elder nations of the 
Continent has had its marked advantages, developing 
the love of country and liberty, the self-confidence, and 
the practical sagacity for which the Englishman has 
always been distinguished. To it is also largely due the 
vast accumulated wealth which has made this little island 
the treasury of the world. But, on the other hand, the 
very isolation which has had such beneficent results, 
with the security from reprisals which has made her 
wide-spread spoliations possible, lies at the bottom of 
many of her great defects. The gigantic moat which 
separates her from the rest of Europe has kept out much 
of good as well as of evil influence. Had it been closed 
three or four centuries ago by one of nature's mighty 
convulsions, England would fill a very different place on 
the historic page. 

The history of the Netherlands furnishes perhaps even 
a better illustration of the influence of environment in 
shaping a people's life. Certainly the points at which 
their conditions of existence differed from those of the 
English, and the effects produced by these natural dif- 
ferences, form very suggestive subjects for a student. 
We have already seen something as to the character of 
the soil, and the mode in which it has been created and 
preserved. ISTow take a map of the country, and we 
shall see that on. two sides it is bounded by the German 
Ocean, and on the other two by France and Germany. 
More than this, the latter boundaries are not made up 
of natural barriers ; they are simply lines upon the map, 
passing through level districts and intersected by great 
rivers. Here, then, we must pause for a moment and 


see how the geographical factor has influenced this 

Although the sea-coast stretched along but two sides 
of the country, it was one perhaps even more favorable 
to primitive commerce than that of England, for its 
indentations and the limitless extensions furnished by 
its river channels afforded innumerable refuges against 
the pirates, who were in former ages the chief enemies 
of trade. This relation to the sea made the people, 
like the English, from the earliest time a race of sailors. 
But the inland connection with the other European 
peoples was at first even more important. Most of 
the early commerce was carried on by the rivers, and 
by the old E,oman roads which led from Italy. Through 
these arteries flowed the civilizing streams, which, though 
at times quite faint in their pulsations, never ceased 
their vivifying work. Here was an element almost en- 
tirely wanting in England ; of its importance we shall 
see more hereafter. Sufiice it now to say that every- 
where in the commerce, manufactures, arts, institutions, 
and laws of the Netherlands, we find traces of this con- 
nection with ancient and modern Italy. 

Still, this situation, with three great rivers flowing 
through the country to the ocean, and with roads lead- 
ing out in all directions, favorable as it was for trade in 
times of peace, was one calculated to invite attack in 
times of war. Having no ocean barriers like those of 
England, no mountain ranges like the Alps or Apen- 
nines, no rocky fastnesses hke those of Switzerland, the 
Low Countries have in all ages been subject to the in- 
cursions of their lawless neighbors. The " Cockpit of 
Europe " is the name given to this region in modern 
days, from the number of battles which have been 
fought upon its soil. To the enormous war expenses 
I.— 7 


thrust upon them from their exposed position is largely 
due the comj^arative decline of these once all-powerful 
and wealthy provinces. 

At first glance it seems strange that under such con- 
ditions the Netherlands ever secured a foothold among 
the powers of the earth. But before the invention of 
gunpowder revolutionized the art of war, the subject of 
national defence was a quite different one from that pre- 
sented in later days. The fact is, that the absence of 
natural barriers and mountain retreats became one main 
cause of the power and prosperity of the people of this 
country during and at the close of the Middle Ages. 
Men for whom nature or fortune has done much, even 
in the w^ay of protection against their enemies, are too 
often inclined to rely on these advantages rather than 
on themselves. Here, however, where nature had done 
nothing, the men became self-reliant. They built their 
own fortresses, covering the land with walled towns 
which developed into great cities, w^here each man, 
whether an artisan or gentle-born, was trained to the 
use of arms. To the existence of these towns, and to 
the formation of the country, the Netherlands owed 
their peculiar exemption from the blighting influence of 
the feudal system, which checked civihzation in so great 
a part of Europe. The cities with their narrow, tortuous 
streets, and a country the soil of which was largely a 
morass, and all intersected by canals, arms of the sea, 
and rivers, afforded little scope for the movements of 
mounted knights and their retainers. 

Still greater has been the influence of another feature 
of their geographical position. Manufactures and com- 
merce brought w^ealth, and with it luxury, love of art, 
and learning, but, especially in Holland, little of the 
enervation which usually follows in their train. In most 


lands accumulated wealth has bred a disinclination to 
labor, fostering a leisured class, the great curse of a 
community. But here the time has never come when 
men could sit down and say their work was finished, 
and that they would enjoy life in ease. Before them 
has ever stood the sea, daily and hourly threatening 
their existence. Their fathers made the land, but they 
have preserved it only by incessant labor. A little 
crevice in their dikes, unnoticed for a few hours, might 
devastate a district. Even with the most watchful care, 
no man can go to bed at night assured that in the 
morning he will find his possessions safe. 

These conditions of life in the I^etherlands must al- 
ways be remembered if we would understand their 
history. The constant struggle for existence, as in all 
cases when the rewards are great enough to raise men 
above biting, sordid penury, strengthens the whole race, 
mentally, morally, and physically. Again, labor here 
has never been selfish and individual. To be effective 
it requires organization and direction. Men learn to 
work in a body and under leaders. A single man labor- 
ing on a dike would accomplish nothing; the whole 
population must turn out and act together. The habits 
thus engendered extend in all directions. Everything 
is done in corporations. Each trade has its guild, elects 
its own officers, and manages its own affairs. The peo- 
ple are a vast civic army, subdivided into brigades, reg- 
iments, and companies, all accustomed to discipline, 
learning the first great lesson of life, obedience. 

On the other hand, this daily contest with nature, the 
regularity of life thus enforced, and the attention to 
minute details essential to existence, crush out the ro- 
mantic spirit which makes some nations so picturesque. 
We find among them none of the wild chants of other 


Korthern people. 'No poet sings to them of goblins 
and fairy sprites. Their world is inhabited by actuali- 
ties, and not by witches or the spirits of dead heroes. 
Hence they were never highly poetical, as the English 
were until after the time of Shakespeare, when they too 
became a race of manufacturers and merchants. They 
are not contemplative philosophers, like the Germans ; 
they dwell in no abstractions and indulge in little sen- 
timent. Life here below has been their study : how to 
improve the condition of man on this planet ; how to 
make the home attractive by art, music, flowers, and 
social recreations ; how to dispense justice to rich and 
poor alike, relieve the unfortunate, and give every one 
an equal chance in life ; how to protect the oppressed 
from other lands, keeping the conscience as well as the 
body free ; how to teach the world that men can be rich 
without insolence, poor without discontent, learned with- 
out pride, artistic without corruption, earnest in relig- 
ion without bigotry. This is honor enough. Had these 
people also produced a Homer, a Dante, or a Shake- 
speare, they would have been a miracle and not a growth. 
But there is something more than soil, climate, and 
natural surroundings which determines a nation's his- 
tory. All men under the same conditions will not reach 
the same result. Great is the influence of environment, 
but great also is the mysterious influence of race. Place 
a people of one blood on the American continent, and 
they remain wandering tribes of painted hunters. Re- 
place them with men of another breed, and the land in 
less than three centuries is covered with cities, fretted 
with railroads, and groaning under the wealth of agri- 
culture, manufactures, and commerce. The natural con- 
ditions are the same ; it is only the human factor which 
has been changed. 


In the history of the Netherlands this human factor 
forms an interesting study. It is evident that upon such 
a soil none of the weak and puny races of the earth 
could ever have gained a foothold. Once there, and 
settled in their habitations, they would be greatly mould- 
ed by the natural surroundings; but "the first struggle 
required the foremost blood which the world has ever 
known. Even beyond this, the influence of race is so 
persistent that we shall find it all through their history, 
shaping the character and institutions of this people ; so 
that when at last, after fifteen centuries, the seventeen 
provinces, living under much' the same conditions, are 
divided into two equal parts, differing in religion and 
form of government, the line of cleavage follows nearly 
that of the earliest race divisions noticed by the Romans. 

Who, then, were the people tHat wrested this land from 
the ocean and gave it fertility and wealth? What am- 
phibious race, half beaver, half man, first occupied the 
primeval morasses which now compose the Netherlands 
we do not know. Our earliest account of the country 
is derived from Caesar, and it is supplemented by that 
of Tacitus, who seems to have been particularly interest- 
ed in its people. According to tradition, the aborigines 
had been swept away about a century before our era. 
However this may be, the historic scene opens with the 
advent of the Romans, and at that time the face of the 
country was almost unchanged by the hand of man. To 
us, therefore, the races which the Romans found in occu- 
pation may stand as the first occupants ; and when we 
come to see their character, we shall comprehend the 
second great factor in the history of their descendants. 

When Julius Ceesar swept over Western Europe on 
his meteoric career of conquest, he found this land oc- 
cupied by tribes whose peculiar valor historians and 


poets have made immortal. The Rhine formed nearly 
the division boundary between those of Gallic and those 
of Germanic blood. On its southern bank dwelt the 
Belgas, whom he named the bravest of the Gauls. There 
he " overcame the Kervii," who died, but would not sur- 
render. He annihilated them in a battle memorable 
in his marvellous campaigns — a battle where he himself 
fouffht like a common soldier in the ranks. 

North of the Ehine, or rather on an island formed by 
two of its branches, he found a tribe of Teutonic origin, 
even more illustrious. These were the Batavians, whom 
Tacitus called the bravest of the Germans. The other 
barbarians were conquered and paid tribute to Rome ; 
they simply became her allies, the tax-gatherer never 
setting foot upon their island, which now forms the 
heart of Holland.* As allies they earned an historic 
name. Csesar cherished their cavalry as his favorite 
troops, and with them turned the tide of battle at Phar- 
salia. For over a century after his murder, the Batavian 
legion formed the imperial body-guard, making and un- 
making emperors, and the Batavian island the base of 
operations against Britain, Gaul, and Germany.f 

The Gallic and Germanic tribes who occupied re- 
spectively the southern and the northern portions of 
the Netherlands, now Belgium and Holland, differed 
widely in their characteristics. The men of either race 
were of gigantic stature, muscular, and inured to w^ar ; 
but there the resemblance largely ceased. The Gaul 
loved ornaments, decked himself in gay colors, and wore 
his yellow hair floating in the breeze. He liked society. 

* Tacitus, " Gerraania," §§ 29, 30. 

t Grattan's "Hist, of the Netherlands," p. 18; Motley's "Dutch 
Republic," i. 1-5. 


and so dwelt in towns and yillages, cultivating the soil. 
He was swift to auger, but easily appeased. Supersti- 
tious, he was priest-ridden, being governed mainly by the 
Druids. Unchaste, to him the marriage state was almost 
unknown. The German, on the other hand, was very 
simple in his costume. His fiery-red hair he bound up 
in a war-knot, heightening its color if nature had been 
too chary. Beyond this he wore no ornaments. He 
looked down on agriculture, and thought no pursuit 
honorable but that of arms. Less irascible than the 
Gaul, he held his anger longer and was capable of more 
continued conflict. Dishking society, he preferred to 
live alone under the broad sky, with one wife who was 
his companion in peace and war. ISTo priest controlled 
his actions, but in the sacred groves he paid a simple 
homage to one almighty, unseen God. 

In their civil organization also these races differed 
widely. Among the Gauls were three classes — -the 
priests, nobility, and people ; but the people, according 
to Caesar, were all slaves. Clanship prevailed. The 
chief rulers were elected, but only the nobles partici- 
pated in the choice. Among the Germans there was 
a simple and almost pure republic. Their kings and 
chiefs were elected by universal suffrage. The general 
assembly of the people chose the village magistrates, 
and decided all important questions. Minor affairs were 
regulated by what Americans would call town meet- 
ing, gatherings of all the men of a community. There 
was no private ownership of land, but annually certain 
farms were allotted by the magistrates for the cultiva- 
tion of a single crop.* 

* Motley's " Dutch Republic," i. 4-11. Green's " Making of Eng- 
land," chap. iv. 


Thiis, in their earliest historic period these two races 
stand ont in marked contrast. Time has softened some 
of their primitive traits, while others have entirely dis- 
appeared; and yet to-day the Irishman, the Scotch 
Highlander, the Belgian, and the Frenchman show their 
Gallic blood, while the Germanic origin of the English- 
man and the Hollander is no less apparent.* 

In the Netherlands there was naturally a considera- 
ble intermingling of race. The Germans made their 
way into the southern provinces, giving to the people 
there something of a toughness of fibre unknown among 
the other Celts.f On the other hand, many thousands 
of the Flemings and Walloons, especially during the 
war with Spain, flocked into Holland, carrying w^ith 
them a skill in the manufactures and the arts superior 
to that of their northern neighbors. Still, in the main, 
the southern provinces, Avhich at last remained attached 
to Spain and the papacy, were peopled by Celts, and 
the northern ones which became Protestant and re- 
publican, by men of Germanic origin. 

Of all the nations of Germanic descent, the Holland- 
ers preserved most faithfully their ancestral spirit. The 

* The Gauls were Celts of the same race as the inhabitants of Ire- 
land and Britain. In Ireland, the Celtic blood has remained pre- 
dominant; so it also lias in AVales and in the Highlands of Scotland. 
In England, it gave way largely, some historians claim almost en- 
tirely, before the Anglo-Saxons. It is probable that even the Celts 
were not the original inhabitants of any of these countries. They 
had driven out the former occupants, and in the time of Caesar were 
in turn being pushed on by the Germanic tribes who had reached 
the Rhine. 

t Thus, for example, Charlemagne planted several thousand Saxon 
colonists on the west coast of Flanders. Hutton's " James and 
Philip Van Arteveld," p. 1. 


early Batavians pass from history, but they melt into 
the Frisians, whose name is synonymous with liberty, 
nearest blood-relations of the Anglo-Saxon race. When 
Charlemagne established his dominion they came into 
the empire and accepted chiefs of his appointment, but 
they were still governed according to their own laws. 
The feudal system, which stifled liberty in so many re- 
gions, never was imposed on them. " The Frisians," 
said their statute-books, "shall be free as long as the 
wind blows out of the clouds, and the world stands." * 

With the political history of the E"etherlands down to 
the time of their great war with Spain, we need con- 
cern ourselves but little. It is sufRcient for our purpose 
to briefly trace the general outline, and sketch some of 
the more salient features, the chief interest centring 
about the development of their material prosperity and 
the growth of their institutions. But before entering 
upon these subjects, one fact must be noticed which, 
often overlooked or not given its due prominence, fur- 
nishes the key to much of Continental as well as of 
English history during and just subsequent to the pe- 
riod which we call the Middle Ages. 

When discussing the subject of the Roman civil law 
in the Introduction, a brief allusion was made to the 
high civilization attained by the Romans, and its in- 
fluence on modern Europe. Hereafter, when we come 
to consider the history of England, we shall see how 
much of this civilization was introduced into Britain, 
and how it was utterly blotted out by the Anglo-Saxon 
conquerors. On the Continent, however, the overthrow 

* Motley, i. 23. The Asega book, contaiuiDg their statutes, is still 


of the old governments was followed by a very different 
condition of affairs. In Britain, the conquerors cleared 
the soil before them, supplanting the former occupants, 
aud introducing their own language. The movement, 
though slow, taking a century and a half for its com- 
pletion, was that of the avalanche carrying destruction 
in its path. In other parts of Europe, the conquerors 
settled down peaceably among the conquered, to a large 
extent adopted their life, and finally were themselves 
absorbed. Applying the test of speech, we see which 
race became predominant from the simple fact that the 
French, the Spanish, and the Italian tongues are the 
languages, not of the new-comers, the Franks, the Goths, 
and the Lombards, but of the people whom they found 
upon the soil. The effect in these countries was more 
like that of a river overflowing its banks; the waste 
may for a time seem universal, but when the flood sub- 
sides, the face of nature remains substantially unchanged. 
It is this fact, the difference between the conquest of 
Britain and that of the Continent, which must be kept 
in view when we think of the Dark Ages which suc- 
ceeded the barbarian irruption. They were verv dark 
in England, which then received its modern name, and 
the gloom lasted there almost undisturbed for many cen- 
turies ; but the hue was quite different upon the Conti- 
nent, where the ancient civilization still survived. Look- 
ing through colored glasses, it is but natural to confuse 
the shading of the landscape. Hence the Englishman 
or American, if he would view the Middle Ages on the 
Continent aright, must disabuse his mind of many no- 
tions derived from reading English history alone.* 

* " Parchment and paper, printing and engraving, imi^roved glass 
and steel, gunjDowder, clocks, telescopes, the mariner's compass, the 


Let US now see if we can account in any measure for 
the high civihzation which undoubtedly prevailed in 
the ]!^etherlands at the time of their revolt from Spain. 
This is a question which has probably excited the in- 
terest of every one who has paid any attention to their 
history, for writers like Davies and Motley have left it 
substantially undiscussed, leading some critics to con- 
sider their descriptions overdrawn. 

The first Germanic and Gallic inhabitants of this 
country must have learned much from Eome. As we 
have seen, the Batavian Island was for many years an 
important base of Eoman military operations. Many 
of its natives held high posts in the imperial army, and 
brought home some of the culture of the capital. The 
Menapians, who occupied the present provinces of Flan- 
ders and Antwerp, also shared in the benefits of this? 
connection. The remains of their ancient towns, dis- 
covered in places at present covered by the sea, often 
bring- to lig-ht traces of Eoman constructions and Latin 
inscriptions in honor of the Menapian divinities. Even 
at this period the l^etherlanders were a maritime people, 
exporting salt to England, and salted meat (which was 
in high repute) to Italy. The men were handsome and 
richly clothed ; and the land was well cultivated, and 
abounding in fruits, milk, and honey.* Later on, when 
the Eoman empire went down, they had as near neigh- 
bors on the south the quick-witted Franks, and on the 

reformed calendar, the decimal Botation, algebra, trigonometiy, 
chemistry, counterpoint — whicli was equivalent to a new creation 
of music — these are all possessions which we inherit from that which 
has been so disparagingly termed the stationary period." — Whewell's 
" History of the Inductive Sciences," i. 331. None of them, as every 
reader knows, came from England. * Grattan, pp. 20-25. 


east was Germany, the head of the renewed empire, 
still preserving some portion of the ancient civilization, 
and very soon to gain much more. There were to grow 
up the cities of the Hanseatic League, the pioneers of 
modern progress, of which famous confederation, formed 
in the thirteenth century, several of the towns of Hol- 
land were among the earliest members.* 

But more important than all were the close relations 
which the ISTetherlands maintained with Italy. To ap- 
preciate the influence of this connection, it must be re- 
membered that Italy never became barbarian. The 
race was not Teutonized ; that is to say, not crushed and 
transformed to anything like the same degree as the 
people of the other European countries by the invasion 
of the northern tribes, f 

In the end, the Italians might have shared the fate 
of their contemporaries, and have lost their civilization 
under the slow, brutalizing influence of the conquerors ; 
but this disaster was largely averted by the results 
which followed in the train of the Crusades. In 1096, 

* " The Hansa Towns," Zimmern, p. 214. 

t " The barbarians established themselves on the soil temporarily 
or imperfectly. The Visigoths, the Franks, the Heruli, the Ostro- 
goths, all abandoned it or were soon driven away. If the Lombards 
remained there, they rapidly profited by the Latin culture. In the 
twelfth century tlie Germans, under Frederic Barbarossa, expecting 
to find men of their own race, were surprised to find them so Latin- 
ized, having discarded the fierceness of barbarians and taken from 
the influences of the air and soil sometliing of Roman finesse and 
gentleness ; having preserved the elegance of the language and tlie 
urbanity of primitive manners, even imitating tlie skill of the an- 
cient Romans in the constitution of their cities and in the govern- 
ment of their public affairs. Latin is spoken in Italy uj) to the 
thirteenth century." — Taine's " Art in Italy," p. 28. 


Peter the Hermit led out the first of the vast horde 
of visionary enthusiasts who for centuries poured into 
Asia Minor, whitening two continents with their bones 
in the chivaMc attempt to redeem the holy sepulchre. 
These gigantic expeditions brought to the greater part 
of Europe only a fearful loss of life and property, com- 
pensated for mainly by the impoverishment of the no- 
bles, which aided in breaking up the feudal system. 
Upon Italy, however, the effect was very different. 
There dwelt the head of the Church, who acted as guar- 
dian for all the pilgrims, regulated their movements, and 
levied a general tax on the faithful laity of Europe to 
sustain the wars against the infidels. This tax, known 
as Saladin's Tenth, poured an unfailing stream of treas- 
ure into Eorae ; while the people of all Italy were also 
acquiring wealth by furnishing the crusaders with sup- 
plies and transportation to the Holy Land. 

Still more important, however, was the impetus given 
to commerce by this opening-up of the unknown regions 
of the East.* In 1295, Marco Polo, with his father and 
uncle, after an absence of nearly a quarter of a century, 
returned to Yenice, bringing back their fairy tales of the 
wonders of far Cathay, and the whole of the Old World 
was spread out before these enterprising merchants. It 
was the commerce thus developed that built up the Ital- 
ian republics, and bred the race of merchant princes who 
made the Italy of the Renaissance the mother of liter- 
ature, art, and science. 

It is probable that the connection between the I^eth- 

* The crusaders introduced silk and sugar into Europe. They 
also introduced the windmill, which, invented in Asia Minor and 
transported to the Netherlands, was to prove of untold value in the 
development of that country. See Gibbon, vi. 193. 


erlands and Italy was never broken ; if it was, the re- 
establishment occurred at a very early day. "We find 
that the guilds to manufacture salt and for the purpose 
of bringing under cultivation marshy grounds ascend to 
the Koman epoch.* From the seventh and ninth centu- 
ries Bruges, Antwerp, and Ghent are " ports " or privi- 
leged markets. They fit out cruisers for the whale fish- 
ery ; they serve as the entrepots for the JSTorth and the 
South.f The first crusade owed its success in a great 
degree to the valor and prudence of Godfrey de Bouillon, 
a Flemish knight, who, it is said, took the field with ten 
thousand horsemen and eighty thousand infantry. In 
1272 there were so many Genoese in Flanders that 
Charles of Anjou asks to have them banished ; but pub- 
lic opinion is too strong, and their expulsion is found to 
be impracticable. Some twenty years later Phihp the 
Fair of France compels Guy de Dampierre to restore 
the property which he had taken from the Lombard 
merchants settled in Flanders.:}: In the next century 
we find a large number of Italians from Lombardy liv- 
ing in Middelburg, where they establish a banking-house, 
soon adding commerce in gold and jewels. Their goods 
were displayed in a special building called the " House 
of the Lombards." Similar houses existed in other cit- 
ies.! Ludovico Guicciardini, writing in 1563, says that 
even in Zeeland, though few persons spoke French or 
Spanish, there were many who spoke Italian. || In the 

* Moke's " Mceurs et Usages des Beiges," quoted by Taine. 
t Taine's " Art in the Netherlands," id. 84. 

I Button's "Van Arteveld," chap. ii. 

§ Havard's " Heart of Holland," chap. xiii. London also had its 
Lombard Street. 

II This writer, who is the leading authority upon the condition of 


sixteenth century, as the result of geographical explora- 
tion, attention was called to botany, and public botan- 
ical gardens were established. Their order is significant 
as showing the influence of Italy : Pisa, 1543 ; Padua, 
1545 ; Florence, 1556 ; Rome and Bologna, 1568 ; Ley- 
den, 1577 ; Leipsic, 1580 ; MontpeUier, 1597 ; Paris, 1626 ; 
and Oxford, 1680* Thus Holland stands but thirty- 
four years behind the first of the Italian cities. 

These illustrations are only suggestive of the relations 
between the countries, of which we shall see much more 
hereafter. To trace the full connection would involve a 
large chapter of the history of the Middle Ages. 

Keeping now" in mind the character of the country, 
its early occupants, and their connection wnth the civil- 
ization of Italy, the course of their development can be 
readily understood. 

Beginning with the earliest form of industry, what 
w^ould be the natural feeling of such a race towards the 
soil, when we remember that it w^as their own produc- 
tion? One of the commonest lessons of experience is 
that men hold in light esteem the gifts of nature w^hich 
come to them without an effort. The mother's favorite 
is not the stalwart, healthy child who needs no care, but 
the weakling or the cripple. The Germans, and to some 
extent the Gauls, wandering through their Northern 
wilds, where land was to be had by taking, looked down 
on agriculture as unworthy of a freeman. The only no- 
ble prizes of life were those won by skill or courage. 

the Netherlands in the sixteenth century, was a Florentine, a neph- 
ew of the famous Italian historian. He lived in the Netherlands for 
about forty years, and in 1563 published, at Antwerp, an extensive 
work descriptive of the manners, customs, institutions, and resources 
of the country. 

* Whewell's "History of the Inductive Sciences," iii. 291. 


such as the spoils of the chase or battle. But, settled 
amid the everlasting morasses of the Netherlands, where 
life was a constant struggle with the elements, these men 
found the conquests of peace no less diiScult, and there- 
fore no less honorable, than those of war. Thus with 
labor ennobled, the natural result followed. Curbing 
the ocean and overflowing rivers with their dikes, they 
came to love the soil, their own creation, and to till it 
with patient, almost tender care. 

Hence, as farmers and gardeners, breeders of fine cat- 
tle and horses, they early took the place which they 
have ever since maintained. Even in the fourteenth 
century we find agriculture taught in the schools of 
Flanders, spade husbandry greatly affected, and Flem- 
ish gardeners and cultivators in much demand in all 
parts of Europe.* Flax and hemp were grown to a 
large extent ; hops were cultivated for the brewers ; the 
gardens supplied pease, beans, vetches, onions, garlic, and 
orache — a vegetable now superseded by spinach — and 
the orchards apples, pears, and cherries in abundance.f 

England, until a comparatively recent time, knew 
nothing of these pursuits. When Catherine of Ara- 
gon wished for a salad, she was compelled to send for it 
across the Channel by a special messenger.;]: Furnish- 
ing the court with salads, the Low Countries, in time, 
gave to the English people hops for their beer, cab- 
bages, carrots, beets, and other vegetables for their 
table, flower- seeds for their gardens, large cattle for 

* Hutton's " Van Arteveld." Many Flemish farmers went over to ' 
England, to the alluvial plains of East Norfolk. As to the excel- 
lence of Flemish husbandry for over six centuries, see M'Culloch's 
Geographical Dictionary, article " Belgium." 

t Button. I Hume. 


their fields, great Flemish mares for the carriages of the 
aristocracy, artificial grasses for the support of their 
stock through winter, and lessons in the cultivation of 
their soil, which quadrupled its products.* 

Still, though pre-eminent in agriculture, this was but 
a minor industry among the IsTetherlanders. Fighting 
the water for a home, they early learned their power, 
and the humbled ocean became a servant as faithful and 
almost as potent as the fabled genius of the lamp. In 
little barks they explored the ISTorthern seas, sailed up 
into the Baltic, crept around the coast of France and 
Spain into the Mediterranean, became the best sailors, 
built up the largest commerce, and early took rank as 
the foremost merchants of the world. In the tenth cen- 
tury, Bruges is a great commercial centre ; f in the thir- 
teenth, it is the first commercial city of Europe.:}: 

Why their commerce developed so rapidly is obvious 
when we consider the growth of their manufactures. 

* Hume, cliap. xxxiii., fixes the date of the introduction of vege- 
tables into England as during the latter part of the reign of Henry 
VIH. Even then they made progress very slowly, being used mainly 
for medicinal purposes. Cabbages were first grovrn in England 
during the reign of Elizabeth. Southerden Burn, p. 257. See also 
Wade's "History of England Chronologically Arranged," i. 156. 
He says that asparagus, cauliflovper, artichokes, etc., were introduced 
about 1603. 

" Hops, reformation, bays, and beer 
Came into England all in one year." 
— Old English rhyme, quoted Southerden Burn, p. 205. See Rogers's 
" Story of Holland " as to instruction in agriculture. 

t " The Hansa Towns," p. 163. 

X Motley, i. 37. Seebohm's " Protestant Revolution," 17. The lat- 
ter work, American edition, contains an interesting map, showing 
how all the routes of commerce by sea and land centred in the Neth- 

I.— 8 


Chief among these manufactures was that of ^Yoollen 
cloth, an industry so important to Northern nations 
that its introduction marks an epoch in their history, 
for before this period they had nothing but skins as ma- 
terial for warm clothing. This had its origin in Flan- 
ders, but at a period so early that historians cannot fix 
the date.* 

With the cloth industry, or following in its train, 
grew up the manufacture of silk, linen, tapestry, and 
lace, which made Flanders the manufacturing as well as 
the commercial centre of the world. Exporting her 
fabrics in turn increased her commerce, and there were 
gathered in her busy marts the products of all climes : 
drugs and spices from the East ; velvets and glass from 
Italy ; wines from France ; furs, metals, and wax from 
Kussia, Norway, and Sweden. Nor was it only by the 
ocean that this early trade was carried on. Following 
the old Roman roads, the enterprising Netheiianders 

* Hallam, writing of tlie commerce of Europe, says: "The north- 
ern portion was first animated by the woollen manufactures of Flan- 
ders. It is not easy to discover the early beginnings of this, or to 
account for its rapid advancement. The fertility of that province 
and its facilities of internal navigation were doubtless necessary 
causes ; but there must have been some temporary encouragement 
from the personal character of its sovereigns or other accidental cir- 
cumstances. Several testimonies to the flourishing condition of 
Flemish manufactures occur in the twelfth century, and some might 
be found jjerhaps earlier. A writer of the thirteenth century asserts 
that all the world was clothed from English wool wrought in Flan- 
ders. This, indeed, is an exaggerated vaunt ; but the Flemish stuffs 
were probably sold wherever the sea or a navigable river iDermitted 
them to be carried." — Hallam's -'jMiddle Ages," chap, ix., part 2. 
Robertson says that the manufacture of wool and flax seems to have 
been considerable in the Netherlands in the time of Charlemagne. 
Robertson's " Charles V." (Amer. ed. 1770), i. 69- 


made their way through. France, and down into Spain, 
meeting there the highly civilized and cultivated Moors, 
to whom they probably owed many of their improve- 
ments in agriculture and the arts. Sailing up the Ehine, 
they kept up close relations with the Germans, who, 
under the influence of Italy, were rapidly stepping to 
the front rank among civilized peoples. * With Italy 
itself, which divided with them the commerce of the 
world, their relations grew more and more intimate, for 
they were far enough apart to assist rather than to in- 
jure each other's trade, and hence their rivalry was de- 
prived of bitterness. 

What a scene as compared with the rest of ISTorthern 
Europe, and especially with England, in which we have 
the greatest interest, must have been presented by the 
Low Countries during the fourteenth century ! In 1370, 
there are thirty-two hundred woollen-factories at Malines 
and on its territory.f One of its merchants carries on 
an immense trade with Damascus and Alexandria. An- 
other, of Yalenciennes, being at Paris during a fair, buys 
up all the provisions exposed for sale in order to display 
his wealth. Ghent, in 1340, contains forty thousand 
weavers. In 1389, it has one hundred and eighty-nine 
thousand men bearing arms ; the drapers alone furnish 
eighteen thousand in a revolt. In 1380, the goldsmiths 
of Bruges are numerous enough to form in war time an 
entire division of the army.:j: At a repast given by one 

* See Janssen's " History of Germany," for an account of its condi- 
tion before the Reformation. Also Ltibke's " Hist, of Art," Am. ed. 
ii. 1, and Giordano Bruno as to its condition about 1590, before the 
Thirty Tears' War sent it back to semi-barbarism. 

t Little domestic concerns unlike our moderu factories. 

X Taine's " Art in the Netherlands," p. 86. 


of the Counts of Flanders to the Flemish magistrates, 
the seats provided for the guests being unfurnished with 
cushions, they quietly folded up their sumptuous cloaks, 
richly embroidered and trimmed with fur, and placed 
them on the wooden benches. "When leaving the table 
at the conclusion of the feast, a courtier called their at- 
tention to the fact that they were going without their 
cloaks. The burgomaster of Bruges replied : " We 
Flemings are not in the habit of carrying away the 
cushions after dinner." The queen of Philip the Fair, 
of France, on a visit to Bruges, exclaimed with astonish- 
ment, not unmixed with envy : " I thought myself the 
only queen here ; but I see six hundred others, who 
appear more so than I." ^' Commines, the French 
chronicler, writing in the fifteenth century, says that 
the traveller, leaving France and crossing the frontiers 
of Flanders, compared himself to the Israelites when 
they had quitted the desert and entered the borders 
of the Promised Land. 

Philip the Good kept up a court which surpassed 
every other in Europe for luxury and magnificence.f In 
1M4, he gave at LiUe a grand pageant, the " Feast of 
the Pheasant," such as the modern world had never seen 
before. His son, Charles the Bold, married the sister of 
the King of England, and gave in her honor a pageant 

* Grattan's " History of the Netherlands," p. 75, Carey & Lea, 
Phil., 1831. 

t " His library consisted of the rarest manuscripts and the earliest 
specimens of printed books, splendidly bound and illuminated , the 
nucleus of a collection which, enriched by successive additions, is 
now one of the most important of the world." His collection of 
gems and plate was said to be the finest in existence. Kirk's " Charles 
the Bold," i. 88. 


extending over many days, even more magnificent. The 
English visitors wrote home that it realized the fairy 
tales of King Arthur and his Round Table.* As Kirk 
well says, in his " Life of Charles the Bold," " the luxuries 
of life come before the comforts," a truth to be remem- 
bered when we come to view the Elizabethan age in 
England. Eeading of her two or three thousand gowns, 
the revels which attended her royal progresses, the costly 
garments of the courtiers, the tapestry, the gold and 
silver plate to be found in some few mansions, we should 
make a great mistake if we regarded these exhibitions 
as proofs of an advanced civilization or of national com- 
fort. In all such matters of luxury and display, Eng- 
land of the sixteenth or seventeenth century had noth- 
ing to compare with the ISTetherlands a hundred or 
even two hundred years before. After luxury, come 
comfort, intelligence, morality, and learning, which de- 
velop under very different conditions. 

In the course of time even Italy was outstripped in 
the commercial race. The conquest of Egypt by the 
Turks,t and the discovery of a water passage to the In- 
dies, broke up the overland trade with the East, and de- 
stroyed the Italian and German cities which had flour- 
ished on it. Of the profits derived from the substituted 
ocean traffic with the Indies, and the new commerce 
with America— the commerce which helped so largely 
to give Spain her transitory wealth and greatness — the 
Low Countries, acting as distributors, obtained more 
than their full share. Passing from the dominion of 
the House of Burgundy to that of the House of Austria, 

* See as to feasts and pageants, one witnessed by Albert Diirer in 
1520, described in Taine's "Art in the Netherlands." 
t 1512, 1515, and 1520. 


^vhicli also numbered Spain among its vast possessions, 
proved to them in the end an event fraught with mo- 
mentous evil. Still for a time, and from a mere mate- 
rial point of view, it was an evil not unmixed with good. 
The Netherlanders were better sailors and keener mer- 
chants than the Spaniards, and, being under the same 
rulers, gained substantial advantages from the close con- 
nection. The new commerce of Portugal also filled 
their coffers ; so that while Italy and Germany were im- 
poverished, they became wealthier and more prosperous 
than ever, having, by the middle of the sixteenth cen- 
tury, absorbed most of the carrying trade of the world. 

As I have already pointed out, the English, down to 
the time of Elizabeth and until educated by their neigh- 
bors, knew very little even of agriculture except in its 
rudest forms. They were mainly engaged in raising 
sheep, and their wool, with that from Spain and Scot- 
land, w^ent to the great market of the ISTetherlands.* 
The wool-sack of the Lord Chancellor of England, says 
a modern writer, symbolizes the period in which sheep- 
raising was the only industry of the people. "When 
Philip the Good founded at Bruges his new order of 
chivalry, he chose as an emblem a golden fleece. The 
artisans of the Netherlands had w^oven the w^ool into 

With wealth pouring in from all quarters, art natu- 
rally followed in the w^ake of commerce. Architecture 
was first developed, and nowhere was its cultivation 

* Green's " History of the English People," vol. i. book iii. chap. iv. 

t Conway's " Early Flemish Artists," p. 57. About 1380, the Eng- 
lish, taught by Netherland emigrants, first began to make coarse 
woollen cloth. Southerden Burn's "Protestant Refugees in Eng- 
land," p. 4. 


more general thaa in the ITetherlands. Our knowledge 
of the Middle Ages is still so imperfect that little can 
be said with certainty about the men who designed and 
the workmen who constructed the superb cathedrals, 
which, scattered over jSTorthwestern Europe, protest 
against our supercilious estimate of modern progress, 
standing, like the ruins on the Nile, mute but unim- 
peachable witnesses to a former civilization. It is be- 
lieved that these structures owe their origin to a great 
secret masonic brotherhood, league, or guild, bound 
probably by religious vows, with headquarters in France 
and Germany, and branches in other parts of Europe. 
To a branch of this league are attributed the splen- 
did and elaborately finished buildings with which the 
l^etherlands were adorned between the twelfth and fif- 
teenth centuries.* Chief among these buildings were 
the cathedrals of Flanders and Brabant, some of which 
were brilliant masterpieces. 

But the Church did not here, as in most other lands, 
absorb all the skill and genius of the builders, and in 
this fact we see at once how this people stand apart 
from their contemporaries in Northern Europe. Else- 
where, in the North at least, architectural art was only 
a handmaid of rehgion, all decoration, under the guid- 
ance of the priesthood, being lavished on ecclesiastical 
structures, because the Church held almost all the knowl- 
edge and controlled a large share of the wealth. Here, 
however, another power was coming to the front. The 
merchants and manufacturers Avere generous enough 

* Motley's "Dutch Republic," i. 86, 551 ; " The Arts in the Middle 
Ages," La Croix, p. 377, etc. Tlie first architecture from Germany 
was probably Romanesque. The true Gothic came from the Nor- 
mans in France. 


towards the Church, but they soon passed beyond the 
stage where they thought it entitled to all their treas- 
ures. Hence, even in these early days, secular archi- 
tecture, one of the best measures of the wealth and 
refinement of a nation, had attained to great importance, 
covering the land with town -halls and other public 
buildings, which are still the delight and wonder of the 

England, at an early period, had her cathedrals built 
mainly under foreign influences ; but we look there in 
vain for any sign of devotion to art in any other public 
structures, until we come to comparatively modern days. 
"When now we descend to the dwellings of the people, 
the contrast is no less marked. At a time when the pri- 
vate houses in England were of the most primitive char- 
acter, differing, as to the middle classes, but little from 
those described by Tacitus in his " Germania " fifteen 
centuries before, the cities of the ISTetherlands were 
studded over with private palaces of marble.f Even 
in the thirteenth century the principal Flemish towns 
contained Turkish baths, their streets were paved and 
kept in good order, while the houses of the wealthy 

* "Burgher opulence and energj' are grandly and vigorously ex- 
pressed in the secular buildings of these towns. For example, we 
have the 'Hall of the Cloth-makers,' now the Town Hall of Yjires, 
1200-1364; Town Hall at Bruges, begun 1284; Council House at 
Bruges, 1377; Council House at Brussels, 1401-55; the still more 
magnificent Town Hall at Louvain, belonging to the second half of 
the fifteenth century ; and that at Oudenarde, built in 1537-30." — • 
Liibke's " History of Art," ii. 24-27. 

t In what is known in history as the " Spanisli Fury," in 1576, the 
Spaniards destroyed in Antwerp alone " at least five hundred pal- 
aces, mostly of marble and hammered stone." — Motley's " Dutch 
Republic," iii. 115. 


burghers were built of stone and supplied with chim- 

ISTor was the contrast with the English dwellings 
confined to their external appearance alone. Entering 
those of the Netherlanders, one would have seen them 
filled with paintings, tapestry, linen, brass, and costly 
furniture, such as could be found in no other quarter of 
the globe. Albert Diirer visited the country in 1520. 
It seems by his " Journal " that although he had lived 
in Italy, he was lost in wonder and delight at the mag- 
nificent buildings, the costly furniture, the artistic orna- 
ments, the rich clothing, and the general display of 
wealth and splendor which he found in the Low Coun- 
tries, f 

If architecture was at first the result of a German 
and then of a Norman or French impulse, its junior, 
painting, was probably due to the influence of Italy, 
although exerted through the medium of the German 
cities on the Rhine. Here, however, the pupil more than 

* Hutton's "Van Arteveld." 

t The picture of John Arnolfini and his "wife, one of the treasures 
in the National Gallery at London, painted by Jan Van Eyck, who 
was born about 1380, shows a Flemisli interior which is very sugges- 
tive. The subjects are a well-to-do merchant and his wife standing 
in their bedroom holding hands. The furniture consists of a hand- 
some bedstead, with an upright carved chair by the side, and a 
carved bench along the wall. Right opposite the spectator is a con- 
vex mirror set in a frame adorned with little medallion paintings. 
In the centre of the room hangs a fine bronze chandelier, and be- 
yond is a glazed window with an orange on the sill. The painting 
is signed " Jan Van Eyck was here," and no certificate could be 
stronger as to the veracity of its details. See Conway's "Early 
Flemish Artists," p. 149. In a later chapter we shall see how Eng- 
lish houses were constructed and furnished, even in the days of 


repaid the master. The earhest dawn of the art in 
modern Europe, as shown in fresco and distemper, is 
found on the southern side of the Alps ; but modern 
painting in oil, the art which glows on the canvas of a 
Raphael, a Titian, or a Rembrandt, had its origin in the 
JSTetherlands. Most authorities, from the days of Yasari, 
have credited the discovery of oil-painting to the broth- 
ers Van Ej^ck, Avho painted at The Hague, Ghent, and 
Bruges, during the latter part of the fourteenth and the 
early part of the fifteenth century. This, perhaps, is 
not exactly correct, for oil was used in this country long 
before their era. Nor \vere they the first artists of the 
jSTetherlands in point of time. For centuries the churches 
had been filled with paintings which seem to have pos- 
sessed considerable merit.* The moist climate, however, 
has worked destruction to most of the wall productions, 
on which the reputation of the early artists was based, 
so that we can judge of them only from contemporane- 
ous reports, t 

But there was something besides the climate. The 
churches of Italy, with their wide walls and broad roof 
spaces, afforded scope for fresco decoration which was 
wanting in the structures of a Gothic type, with their 
arches, pillars, and groined roofs. Hence the Nether- 
land paintings were of a different class, being smaller 
and mostly executed on wooden panels. The ground- 
work of the panel was prepared with a thin coating of 
fine plaster, and upon this coating the colors were laid, 

* In 1143, a fire consunied the principal churches in Utrecht and 
destroyed "a number of magnificent paintings." — -Davies's "Hol- 
land," i. 41. 

t We have a few excellent Flemish wall paintings, and some meri- 
torious panel pictures of the fourteenth century. Conway, p. 126. 


being mixed with the white of an egg or the juice of 
unripe figs. Oil was employed, but its use was attended 
with great disadvantages. It was difficult to lay the 
colors finely with it, and they took a long time to dry. 
For this reason it was never used in the finished part of 
the work, but only for large masses of drapery and the 
like. The great objection to this process lay in the fact, 
not then discovered to its full extent, however, that in 
time the whole mass flaked off, leaving nothing but the 
bare surface of the panel. To the Van Eyck brothers 
is due the credit of remedying this defect. They mixed 
some substance, probably resin, with boiled oil, and 
found that they now had a medium which dried with- 
out exposure to the sun, and with w^hich the finest and 
most delicate work could be accomplished. Using this 
substance, the plaster on the panel was interpenetrated 
with the varnish, and the whole wrought so finely to- 
gether that at last the surface became like enamel, and 
it is generally next to impossible to detect the traces of 
the brush.* The discovery of the Van Eycks not only 
gave paintings a finer character, but made them sub- 
stantially indestructible by time. It was carried to Italy 
by the artists from that country, who in great numbers 
were then studying in the Netherlands, and a century 
later was brought to completion in the studios of Yenice 
under the hands of Titian and his fellows. 

The Yan Eyck brothers are, however, entitled to much 
greater honor than that of discovering a new process in 
art. They were the crowning figures in a school which 
nad been in existence for two or three centuries at least, 
and they were the greatest painters of the age.f Together 

* Conway's "Early Flemish Artists," pp. 116-119. 

t " Their era," says Liibke, " is so glorious, so untrammelled and 


they painted the world-renowned picture of the " Ado- 
ration of the Lamb," at St. Bavon's Church, in Ghent. 
The finest part of this grand work is attributed to the 
elder brother, Hubert, who was born in 136G ; but tne 
remainder, conceded to the younger, is also of extraor- 
dinary merit. Looking at this picture, and at the later 
paintings of the younger brother, we feel that we have 
come into a new world of art. Here are no longer mere 
personified qualities or abstractions, as among the Ital- 
ians, but real human beings, men painted as they looked 
on earth. Hence we have in Jan Van Eyck the origi- 
nator of the modern school of portrait-painters, in which 
Flanders and Holland were to lead the world. But there 
is something more about these pictures. Viewing the 
paintings which precede this era, we find as a back- 
ground for the figures nothing but a plain surface or a 
mass of gilt. In the " Adoration of the Lamb," we see 
for the first time a fine landscape as a background.* 
This innovation also marks an epoch. Thenceforth the 
painters of the Low Countries abjured their gilt; the 
background becomes from year to year more important, 
until Joachim Patinier, born in 1490, makes it the prom- 
inent feature of his pictures, and becomes the founder 
of the modern ISTorthern school of landscape painting.f 

Thus we find that painting follows, among this peo- 
ple, the same course as its elder sister, architecture. In 
France it was said that only what was executed for the 
Church or king was art.:}: This was true of most coun- 

magnificent, that the corresponding period in Italy scarcely bears 
comparison with it." — " History of Art," ii. 420-429. Conway's 
" Early Flemish Artists ;" Eastlake's " History of Oil -Painting ;" 
Taine's ''Art in the Netherlands," etc. 

* Conway, p. 271. t Liibke, ii. 452. 

J Grimm's " Life of Michael Angelo," ii. 53. 


tries. It, however, ceased to be true in the Netherlands 
at an early date. We have seen how it was with archi- 
tecture. Even in the churches, it has been objected that 
the pure Gothic design was somewhat sacrificed to the 
convenience of the worshippers. These people believed 
that churches were designed for man, and they there- 
fore made them comfortable for the masses ; they be- 
lieved that art was for every-day use, and so applied it 
to their town-halls and dwellings, and made it the com- 
panion of the fireside. It is this homelike quality which 
distinguishes the great pictures of the Dutch and Flem- 
ish schools. In other lands the artists revelled in vis- 
ions of imaginary loveliness, choosing as subjects scenes 
in which youth and beauty usually play the leading 
parts. The Netherlanders loved above all things verity, 
and transferred to the canvas what they saw around 
them. They valued character and intellect above mere 
beauty of form, and so preferred as subjects for their 
portraits faces which tell a story. As a rule, these faces 
are not handsome, but they belong to men who look as 
if they had lived and had accomplished something in 
the world.* 

For a time, after the death of the Yan Eycks and 
their immediate successors, Italian art took the lead, 
and unfortunately many of the Netherland painters 
wasted their lives in the vain attempt to work against 
their nature by an imitation of this foreign school. Still, 
there flourished in the Low Countries, during the whole 
of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, a great number 

* "Plato was quite right in making the Beautiful the splendor of 
the True, and this would be now the best definition of Flemish and 
Dutch painting." — Gambetta, in an unpublished letter from Brus- 
sels, 1873. London Times, July 8th, 1889. 


of artists whose works would take high rank but for the 
marvellous productions of Italy during the same period. 
At last came the mighty struggle with Spain, which gave 
independence to the seven northern provinces. Great 
as were the political and religious consequences of this 
struggle, no less marked were its results on art. The 
people learned their strength, became entirely self-reli- 
ant, gained intellectual as well as political independence, 
developed, perfected, and enlarged the schools founded 
by the Yan Eycks two centuries before, put away for- 
ever saints and Madonnas, and astounded as they de- 
lighted the world with portraits, landscapes, marine 
views, pictures of flowers, fruit, cattle, sheep, horses, in- 
teriors of all descriptions — in fact, representations of ev- 
erything in nature or in life that could instruct, elevate, 
arouse, or cheer mankind. Such a period of exaltation 
comes but rarely to a nation. It came to England after 
the destruction of the Spanish Armada, and gave to the 
world the literature which has made the Elizabethan 
age so famous. There it culminated in poetry, for the 
Englishmen of that day were poetical and imaginative. 
In the Netherlands it culminated in painting, because 
the people were artistic. 

How the artistic element permeated all classes of so- 
ciety is shown by the beauty of their products in every 
department of the mechanical arts. Little has come 
down to us of the old Flemish jewelry, but it is spoken 
of as perhaps the finest goldsmith's work of which we 
have a record.* In the manufacture of fine furniture 
they were unexcelled, and their laces, silks, brocades, 
carpets, and rugs had a world-wide reputation. First 
among all these manufactured products stood the tapes- 

* Conway, p. 85. 


tries woven on the looms of Flanders. These have never 
been equalled for beauty or for finished workmanship. 
JS'umbers of them still survive, some with tints almost 
as fresh as when they were woven four or five centuries 
ago. ISTothing could bear higher witness not only to 
the technical perfection, but to the artistic spirit as well, 
which in this case ennobled manufactures.* 

The story of the development of art in the ITether- 
lands is an interesting one, as bearing on the prog- 
ress of society and the expansion of the idea that 
there was a community outside the priesthood and 
nobility. Architecture first becomes secularized; next 
painting steps down from the clouds and sits by the 
hearthstone of the burgher ; then the artist displays his 
skill on the furniture, the ornaments, and the dress of 
these merchants and manufacturers. Finally comes the 
step which leads off into an undiscovered and untried 

The common people, those who cannot afford to pay 
for oil-paintings, want pictures for their houses. , The 
demand creates the supply. The ingenious ISTetherland- 
ers discover that from blocks they can reproduce on pa- 
per pictures in black and white, and wood - engraving 
is invented.f From the Low Countries the invention 

* Liibke, ii. 452. Raphael's celebrated cartoons for the Sistine 
Chapel were sent to Arras to be woven. 

t According to La Croix, " The Arts in the Middle Ages," p. 488, 
wood-engraving originated in Holland, during the latter part of the 
fourteentli century. One of the earliest specimens now extant exists 
at Brussels, and is claimed to have been executed at Malines in 1418. 
Some authorities, however, assert that this is antedated, and that 
an engraving done in Suabia in 1423 is the first well-authenticated 
specimen now in existence. Linton's " Masters of Wood-Engrav- 


rapidly spreads through Europe, meeting with favor es- 
pecially in Germany, where the population had in some 
sections many of the same characteristics.* 

Following wood-engraving, and as its natural supple- 
ment, came the printing of books from blocks. This 
originated from the desire of popularizing knowledge 
as engraving was popularizing art. Some of the early 
specimens are rude enough, but in others the work is 
exquisite of finish. The letters were cut on a single 
block of wood, and then this block was used to print 
from, in the same manner as the stereotype plate of 
modern times. The next step was to substitute mova- 
ble type for the solid piece of wood, and we have the 
printing-press, which has revolutionized the world. Ger- 
many, on the present evidence, will never concede the 
honor of this invention to a Hollander, but its germ lay 
in the block books to which Holland lays unquestioned 
claim. It was, in truth, but following to its legitimate 
conclusions the lessons of the architects who built the 
exquisite town -halls, the artists who painted portraits 
and landscapes, and the engravers who reproduced pict- 
ures from their blocks — that beauty and truth are for 
the masses, and not alone for a chosen few. 

In addition to painting, there was another department 

* How wide-spread was the love of art in the Netherlands is 
shown by the fact that when Albert Diirer visits the country in 
the sixteenth century he pays his expenses in part by selling his 
engravings, the small ones being retailed at prices which brouglit 
them within the means of the humblest workman. See his "Journal.'" 
It is also interesting to notice, in this connection, that while Rem- 
brandt at a later day received large prices for his paintings, he also 
made money from his etchings, which he carried to great perfec- 


of art in which the IsTetherlanders stood supreme. As 
musicians they, for nearly two hundred years, had no 
rival. Other people cultivate music ; to them it seems 
an instinct.* What is known as the Netherland School 
is divided into four epochs. It begins with William 
Dufay, of Hainault, who was a tenor singer in the Sis- 
tine Chapel from 13S0 to 1432, and whose masses are 
still preserved at Eome. The next great master was 
John Okeghem, of East Flanders. He began to be cele- 
brated about 1470, and has been called the "patriarch 
of music," being the inventor of the canon, and in gen- 
eral of artificial counterpoint. The school reached its 
zenith in the fourth epoch with Adrian Willaert, who 
was born at Bruges in 1490 and died in 1562. During 
this period, covering nearly two centuries, the Nether- 
lands furnished all the courts of Europe not only with 
singers, but with composers and performers of instru- 
mental music. They founded in IvTaples the first musi- 
cal conservatory of the world, and another in Yenice at 
about the same time. It was also to their influence and 
example that the renowned school of Rome owed its ex- 
istence.f With the Reformation, all this came to a speedy 
end. The higher class of music was, until the days of 
the modern opera, reserved almost entirely for religious 
purposes. It was not easy to secularize it, and when, af- 
ter many years, the time came for doing so, the people 
of the Low Countries had lost their former supremacy. 
Still, they have never lost their love for music. To-day, 
the great musical endowment of an ability to sing in 
parts is encountered even among the populace : the coal- 

* See Taine's "Art in the JSTetherlands." 

t Hitter's " History of Music," pp. 75, 87, 108 ; " EncyclopjEdia 
Britannica," article " Music." 
I.— 9 



miners organize choral societies ; the laborers in Ant- 
werp and Brussels, and the ship-calkers and sailors of 
Amsterdam, sing in chorus and in true time while at 
work, and in the street on returning home at night.* 

Here we may close this chapter, and with it our gen- 
eral view of the material and artistic side of the Nether- 
land prosperity and progress. The result is a striking 
one, in view of the little attention which, until a recent 
date, has been paid to this people by the historians of 
other nations. They took no great part in wars ; since 
the dissolution of the Batavian Legion they had neither 
made nor unmade emperors ; but before the middle of 
the sixteenth century they had conquered almost all 
the fields of industry and art. When the people of 
England were just beginning their wonderful career of 
modern progress, these men across the Channel stood 
foremost of the world in agriculture, manufactures, com- 
merce, engraving, and music, while they had only parted 
temporarily with the crown of painting, which, adding 
that of learning, they were to resume after Holland had 
won her independence. 

* Taine's "Art in tlie Netherlands," p. 58. 




In the preceding chapter I have attempted a brief 
sketch of the rapid advance made by the Netherlanders 
in the industrial pursuits and in the arts, down to the 
middle of the sixteenth century. The important ques- 
tion now arises. What was the effect of this material 
prosperity and devotion to art on the love of liberty and 
the religious spirit which we should look for in this peo- 
ple, as an inheritance from their Germanic ancestors ? 

This question is of interest from many points of view. 
Thoughtful men in all ages have been more or less in- 
clined to accept their civilization under protest. So 
much is said of its enervating influence, and such stress 
is laid upon the virtues of the early heroes who lodged 
in huts and devoured raw flesh for food, that men have 
sometimes asked, is it not better that we should return 
to a state of nature if we wish to keep bright the flame 
of liberty ? In its religious aspect the subject is still 
more important. Many of the English Puritans were as 
intolerant as any of their opponents, looked down on 
art, suspected, if the}^ did not despise, refinement of 
manners, and seemed bent on weeding joy and beauty 
out of life, as if their seeds had been implanted by the 
arch-enemy of man. These men, in many respects such 


unworthy professors of a gospel of love, are sometimes 
held up as examples of earnestness in religion, the theory 
that they were superior in this respect to other people 
of their time, and that their descendants have degener- 
ated from their early virtues, underlying much of Eng- 
lish and American history as written in some quarters. 

The e£Fect of this teaching must be pernicious in its 
tendency, unless the proper corrective be applied. The 
men and women of the present generation are coming 
to use the world in which they live, and to enjoy its 
beauty and its gladness. The young, often more ear- 
nestly thoughtful than their elders, accept the pleasures 
of life, but, with the grim visages of their vaunted an- 
cestors before them, are inclined at times to feel that joy 
is somehow sinful, and must be paid for in the end. 
Looking only at the history of England, seeing the ex- 
cesses against which Puritanism w^as there a protest, 
dwelling on the virtues of our ancestors and not sharply 
enough distinguishing their faults, all this is natural 
enough. It seems, indeed, as if the typical English Puri- 
tan, as described by some writers, with his long, sad face, 
suspicion of joy and beauty, narrowness of mind, and in- 
tolerance of the beliefs of others, was the embodiment of 
earnestness itself, and that his descendants, so far as they 
differ from him, are moving down to a lower plane.* A 
broader view of history, however, will dispel this delu- 
sion, and nowhere can a better corrective be found than 
in the story of the IN'etherlands. 

Here were a people with largely the same blood as the 

* See Carlyle's " Cromwell," and other writings of the same school. 
Carlyle, it may be noticed, habitually speaks of the Hollanders as 
" low-minded Dutchmen," because they did not sympathize with all 
the excesses of the English Puritans. 



English, and with the same inherited traits of charac- 
ter, but educated under very different conditions. When 
now we consider their earnestness for civil and religious 
liberty, the record of the two nations can scarcely be 
compared. Some of the English Puritans fled across the 
Atlantic from a slight religious persecution, and founded 
a ]Srew England. Others remained at home, fought their 
king in a few pitched battles, and established a common- 
wealth, which in eleven years went ,to pieces, simply 
because the people were unfitted for self-government. 
The Puritans of Holland battled for their liberties dur- 
ing four fifths of a century, facing not alone the bravest 
and best-trained soldiers of the age, but flames, the gib- 
bet, flood, siege, pestilence, and famine. Every atrocity 
that religious fanaticism could invent, every horror that 
ever followed in the train of war, swept over and deso- 
lated their land. To speak in the same breath of the 
hardships or sufferings of the English Puritan, as if they 
served to explain his unlovely traits of character, seems 
almost puerile. 

Out from this war of eighty years' duration emerged 
a republic, for two centuries the greatest in the world — 
a republic which was the instructor of the world in art, 
and whose corner-stone was religious toleration for all 
mankind. Its people had endured everything for civil 
liberty and for the Protestant religion ; but they wore no 
long, sad faces, nor did they, either at home or in Amer- 
ica, put men to death for differing from them in relig- 
ion. In view of their story, the pernicious theory that 
earnestness in religion or devotion to the principles of 
self-government makes men joyless, haters of art, or per- 
secutors of their fellows should be consigned to the 
abysmal darkness whence it came. Such a doctrine is one 
of the most striking illustrations of the cant of history. 


The English Puritans, both at home and in America, 
exhibited great quahties, for which they should receive 
all honor ; but they also exhibited defects, so glaring as, 
in the minds of many persons, almost to obscure their 
virtues. The defects, however, as we shall see hereafter, 
sprang from the condition of English society under which 
its Puritanism was developed. To charge them to the 
age, as if all the world were in the same condition, is an 
offence against historic truth ; but that offence is light 
compared with the crime of charging them to religion 
or to the love of republican institutions. 

Let us now glance at the form of government estab- 
lished in the Netherlands prior to the great revolt from 
Spain, then at the condition of the people in relation to 
education, religion, and morals. This is necessary to an 
understanding of the nature and results of that wonder- 
ful struggle, and a comprehension of the mode in which 
the Dutch Puritans became the instructors of their Eng- 
lish brethren. 

In 1555, the Emperor Charles Y., broken by the gout 
and wearied of the cares of state, retired to private life. 
Pefore entering the monaster}^ in which he was to pass 
the remainder of his days, he turned over to his son and 
heir almost all the vast possessions which, wielded by 
his sturdy arm and directed by his genius, had made him 
the foremost monarch of the age. His successor, Philip 
II. of Spain, became by this cession king of all the Spanish 
kingdoms and of both the Sicilies — " Absolute Domina- 
tor," according to the high-flown language of the day, in 
Asia, Africa, and America — Duke of Milan and of both 
the Burgundies, and hereditary sovereign of the seven- 
teen provinces of the ISTetherlands. The last was the 
richest and fairest jewel in his crown. Of the five mill- 
ions poured annually into the royal treasury, two came 


from these provinces, while only half a million came 
from Spain, and a like sum from Mexico and Peru.* 

The seventeen provinces at this time composing the 
^Netherlands were so many separate states. Each had 
an hereditary ruler, called a duke, marquis, count, or 
baron — titles which centuries before had been held by 
different persons. 'Now one person held them all, but 
still each state maintained its individuality and had its 
own government, as the American colonies had theirs 
before the Revolution. As the King of England ap- 
pointed governors for the American colonies, so in the 
l*Netherlands the superior lord, now Philip of Spain, ap- 
pointed governors, or stadtholders, to represent his sover- 
eignty in the various provinces, and a regent to control 
the whole. "Within the provinces, again, were the cities 
and towns, each of which had its separate charter, some 
of them so liberal as to make them virtual republics.f 
The population of all the provinces was estimated at 
three millions.:}: Three millions of people, according to 
Motley, the most industrious, the most prosperous, per- 
haps the most intelligent, under the sun. § 

The southern states, which in the end remained at- 
tached to Spain, w^ere at this time the more populous 
and wealthy. Those in the north, however, were rap- 

*Motley, i. 112. 

t In the seventeen provinces were 208 wulled cities, 150 chartered 
towns, and 6300 villages. Motley, i. 91. 

I About one fourth as large as at present. All estimates of popu- 
lation in the days before a regular census was taken are, however, 
vague and only approximate. That of England at this time is fixed 
by Green at from five to six millions, while Macaulay places it no 
higher a century later. Prof. Tliorold Rogers, probably the best 
authority, estimates the population of England in the reign of Eliz- 
abeth at only two millions and a half Time, March, 1890. 

§ Motley, i. 90. 


idly stepping to tlie front, and the long war which they 
were about to wage with Spain established their pre- 
eminence in all departments. Plolland, in particular, 
had founded an industry of surpassing value. In 1414, 
a humble fisherman, Jacob Beukelszoon, of Biervliet, in 
Zeeland, by one of the practical inventions of Avhich his 
people were to give so man}^ to the world, had opened up 
in the sea a mine of wealth richer than all the mines of 
Mexico or Peru.' It was simply a novel and easy method, 
still in use, of drying and packing fish. Two years later 
the first large herring seine was manufactured.'- Thence- 
forth the fisheries of Holland, at a time when almost all 
the world abstained from meat in Lent and on ev- 
ery Wednesday and Friday, became of vast importance. 
Not only did they bring into the country an endless 
stream of gold, but they nurtured the brave and skilful 
seamen who aided so much in building up the great re- 
public, t Half a century after this invention, Philip of 
Burgundy, writing to the pope, said that " Holland and 
Zeeland were inhabited by a brave and warlike people, 
who have never been conquered by their neighbors, and 
who prosecuted their commerce on every sea." :{: 

*Davies's " Holland," i. 195. Authorities differ as to this claim of 
Beukelszoon, there being no proof in the records that he was the in- 
ventor of the process, which, however, originated in Biervliet about 
his time. Rogers's " Story of Holland," p. 27. Of more importance is 
the statement that the great impulse to the fisheries of Holland was 
due to the fact that about 1425 the herring first began to spawn in 
tlie German Ocean. " The Hansa Towns," by Helen Zimmern, p. 49. 

fit should be mentioned to the honor of Charles V. that, being in 
1550 at Biervliet, wliere Beukelszoon was buried, he visited the grave 
and ordered a magnificent monument to be erected to the memory 
of the man who had rendered so signal a service to his country. Ed- 
inburgh Review, July, 1830, p. 419. 

X " La Richesse de la Holland," i. 26. 


Such was the general condition of the JN'etherlands 
when by the abdication of Charles V. they passed 
to his successor. That successor never understood the 
people committed to his rule, knew nothing of their 
spirit, and could not comprehend why they so insisted 
on their civil and religious rights. Throughout the rest 
of Europe, the feudal tyranny having passed away, the 
monarchs w^ere absorbing all the power. Such was the 
case in neighboring France, in Spain, where Philip was 
born and lived, and in England, where he found a wife. 
Why should he not govern these provinces in the same 
manner as the other parts of his dominions ? That he 
could not, he discovered before his death. To under- 
stand why he could not, we must look at the institutions 
of the country with some care. 

There was a time in the early history of the Nether- 
lands when liberty -was in danger. The ancient Ger- 
manic freedom was protected chiefly by poverty and 
isolation ; but when men began to cultivate the land, 
trade with one another, and lay up wealth, these warders 
went off guard. Had this people then been devoted to 
agriculture alone, the results would probably have been 
as disastrous as in other parts of Europe. But here 
commerce and manufactures came to the rescue, and 
built up the waited towns which were for ages the cita- 
dels of freedom. The growth of these towns, and the 
municipal institutions there developed, form the principal 
feature of ISTetherland history. In most other countries 
the towns were mere aggregations of individuals, with 
privileges, customs, and chartered rights more or less 
defined, but subject to the general government, and 
comparatively early falling under national control. Here, 
on the other hand, when once established, they grew 
steadily in power and independence, until in the end they 


became almost little republics, levying their own taxes, 
electing their own magistrates, and making their own 

It is not necessary for our purpose, nor would it be 
an easy task, to trace the origin of these towns and show 
the methods of their growth. "Within the present cen- 
tury considerable attention has been paid to these sub- 
jects, but much yet remains to be accomplished. All 
that has been discovered, however, tends more and more 
to prove the influence of Rome, in this as in other mat- 
ters, upon the institutions of the IsTetherlands.* 

The city of Bruges is perhaps typical of the later 
towns of the ^Netherlands, and its origin suggestive of 

* Savigny, in his " History of Roman Law in the Middle Ages," and 
Raynouard, in his " Histoire de Droit Municipal," have traced the 
continuance of municipal institutions in some ten French cities from 
the age of the Roman Empire to the twelfth century, when the for- 
mal charters of communities first appear. Hallam, speaking of the 
French cities of the eleventh century, says : "We must here distinguish 
the cities of Flanders and Holland, which obtained their independence 
much earlier ; in fact, their self-government goes back beyond any as- 
signable date. They appear to have sprung from a distinct source, 
but still from the great reservoir of Roman institutions. The cities 
on the Rhine retained more of their ancient organization than we 
find in Northern France. The Roman language, says Thierry, had 
here perished, the institutions survived. At Cologne we find, from 
age to age, a corporation of citizens exactly resembling the curia, 
and whose members set up hereditary pretensions to a Roman de- 
scent ; we find there a particular tribunal for the cessio honorurn, a 
part of Roman law unknown to the old jurisprudence of Germany, 
as to that of the feudal system. In the twelfth century the free con- 
stitution of Cologne passed for ancient. From Cologne and Treves 
municipal rights spread to the Rhenish cities of less remote origin, 
and reached the great communities of Flanders and Brabant." — Hal- 
lam's "Middle Ages," vol. i. chap. ii. note 18, ed. 1878. 


the mode in which such communities arose. Charlemagne 
planted several thousand Saxon colonists on the west 
coast of Flanders, partly to repel the incursions of the 
ISTorthmen, and partly to serve as hostages for the orderly 
conduct of their kinsmen beyond the eastern borders of 
his empire. He also appointed 2iforestier, whose duty 
it was to enforce obedience to the laws, collect imposts, 
and preserve the royal forests. This arrangement was 
of brief duration. In the reign of Charles the Bald, 
about 860, a rude Flemish chieftain, Baldwin of the Iron 
Arm, ran away with the king's daughter, Judith, but 
after many vicissitudes was taken into favor. Flanders 
was erected into a county to be held as a fief of France, 
and conferred on the bold Baldwin, with the title of 
Markgraf, or Warden of the Marches. He then built a 
castle, commanding a bridge over the little river Eeye, 
with a chapel to receive certain relics of St. Donatus, 
sent to him by the Archbishop of Rheims. Outside the 
walls he erected houses for the reception of merchants 
and itinerant traders, and laid out a place of meeting for 
freemen. Thus a small town arose under the castle 
walls, which took the name of Brugge, from the bridge 
to which it primarily owed its existence. This toll-house 
on the river, for such it really was, developed into the 
city of Bruges, which in the tenth century had a large 
commerce, and in the thirteenth was the commercial 
capital of Europe.* 

Bruges was, however, a modern town. It grew up on 
a trade already established, for the country had mer- 
chants, and commerce from which toll could be col- 
lected. Its advantages were those of situation ; these, 
and not its antiquity, gave it prominence. Other cities 

* Hutton's " Van Arteveld," cliap. i. 


in the interior are older, and it is through them that 
the ideas of Eome were handed down, which, mingled 
with the traditions of the German race, built up the 
little republics that studded the whole surface of the' 

The distinguishing feature of all these municipalities, 
that which more than any other gave them strength, 
was the system by which the citizens were divided into 
guilds. The birthplace of this institution is disputed; 
one party claiming that it is of Germanic origin, the 
other that it was derived from Eome. Perhaps both are 
right in part. The early Germans were accustomed to 
form associations for mutual protection against acci- 
dents by fire or water and similar misadventures. These 
unions were called Minne, or Friendships. Hence the 
word Minnesingers of later days. After a time the name 
of Minne passed into that of Ghilde, meaning a feast 
at the common expense. Each ghilde was placed under 
the patronage of some departed hero or derai-god, and 
was managed by officers elected by the members, social 
equality lying at its foundation.* With the introduc- 
tion of Christianity the demi-god was replaced by a 
saint, but the clergy frowned on the associations, which 
led to much intemperance. Such was the origin of the 
guilds of the Middle Ages, according to some authori- 
ties, and for those of a social and charitable nature we 
need look no further. But the guilds which were of 
chief importance, those which characterized the cities of 
the Netherlands, were associations among members of 
the same trade for industrial purposes, and these seem 
rather to have come from Eome. 

The Eomans exercised the right of association from a 

* Hutton's " Van Arteveld," chajj. i. 


very early time, and it is asserted that N uma encouraged 
the formation of craft-guilds, of which Plutarch enumer- 
ates nine. Exercised voluntarily under the republic, the 
right became somewhat curtailed under the empire, and 
the collegia, as they were called, were limited by im- 
perial decree.* Yet they became very numerous, not 
only in Eome, but throughout the rest of the empire, 
especially in the East, in Italy, and in Gaul. Many of 
these associations were organized for good-fellowship, 
some for religious purposes, others to provide for burial, 
but the most important were those formed for trade and 
manufactures. Thus we find at l^aples in the sixth cen- 
tury a soapmakers' guild, and in the ITetherlands at the 
same period one for making salt. In Rome, the collegia 
were mostly confined to the poorer classes, but in the 
provinces they numbered among their members not 
only wealthy tradesmen, but also nobles. All chose their 
own officers, made their own laws, and paid contribu- 
tions to a common fund.f 

The Germanic guilds and the Roman collegia were 
thus much alike ; and in one or the other, or in both com- 
bined, we see the original of many of the institutions of 
the Middle Ages and of later times. Out of the Germanic 
guilds, formed for mutual protection, insurance, and 
social purposes, grew the Anglo-Saxon hundreds, where 
each member was responsible for the actions of all the 
others. From the same source came the social guilds 
which before the Reformation were so numerous in Eng'- 
land, there being over nine hundred in the county of 

* Trajan was much opposed to thera. See " Letters of tlie Younger 
Pliny," X. 34. 

t For a short account of the Roman guilds, see " Encyclopsedia 
Britannica," article " Guild," and authorities cited. 


Norfolk alone. In the IS^etherlands these old Germanic 
associations seem gradually to have assumed the govern- 
ment of the towns. However, when this came about, 
they had lost their ancient name, and were no longer 
called guilds, but communes, embracing all who were 
entitled to gather together in the public place when 
the town bell rang out the summons. Thenceforth, the 
name guild was limited to the trade or manufacturing 
associations, which seem to have had more of a Eoman 

On being admitted a member of his craft-guild, each 
workman took an oath to uphold divine worship, and to 
serve his count loyally and with all his might. For 
misconduct he was liable to punishment, while he was 
entitled to a pension after a certain term of honorable 
service. Within the guild, there reigned the most perfect 
equality, each member being part of a machine. Wages 
and prices were regulated by the deacon or head man. 
Hours of labor were precisely defined, so that no em- 
ployer could steal a march on a competitor. Among 
the weavers, all the wool was bought by the guild and 
distributed on terms of strict impartiality. In each 
workshop the number of looms was limited, and no em- 
ployer was allowed to lure away the workmen of another. 
A master workman, as a rule, could not employ more than 
three journeymen at a time. A citizen of another town 
had great difficulty in getting into a craft-guild, unless 
it could be shown that extra hands were really needed. 
The competition aimed at was that of trade against 
trade, town against town, province against province, the 
Low Countries against the world, and not that of indi- 
vidual against his feUow. With all these restrictions 
upon liberty of action, the most extreme care was used 
to secure efficiency among the members of each guild. 


A long and arduous apprenticeship was required before 
a man could become a workman. Every mistake was 
punished with a fine, and any glaring violation of mo- 
rality or infringement of the law by expulsion from the 

Each of these trades-companies had its own chapel, 
and generally its own hospital, as well as its herberg, or 
house of call, in which were preserved its charters and 
other public documents. The members made their own 
internal laws, and discussed collectively all matters re- 
lating to their common interests. Each association was 
presided over by a deacon, or dehen, elected by the mem- 
bers, but rarely from among their ranks. Each had its 
own tribunal, from whose decision there was no appeal. 
Thus the guilds formed little republics within the com- 
munes or towns, greatly curtailing individual freedom of 
action, but giving a strength of co-operation much needed 
in the rude age of feudal tyranny. By the fourteenth 
century they had become so numerous that we find fifty- 
two at Bruges and fifty-nine at Ghent.* 

In the nineteenth century, with its hurry and bustle, 
the anxiety of every man to make more money than 
his neighbor, and the blind admiration of accumulated 
wealth, the guild system of the fourteenth and fifteenth 
centuries seems like a peaceful dream. The competition 
of modern times, the outgrowth of the ideas of individ- 
ual freedom inherited from our Germanic ancestors, has, 
perhaps, made life easier to live, but has taken away 
much of the charm of living. These craftsmen of the 
Middle Ages were trained to do good work, for love of 

* Hutton's "Van Arteveld," chap. v. They existed in all the towns. 
In 1367 there were over forty in Dordrecht. Geddes's "John De 
Witt," i. 14. 


it, from pride in their handicraft, and not from a desire 
for great wages that in time Avould enable them to rise 
in the social scale. It was honor enough to be a good 
workman, and that reputation secured all the comforts of 
existence. The same spirit extended through all classes, 
and has always characterized the ISTetherlanders. They 
are shrewd enough at a bargain, are industrious and fru- 
gal, but they have never displayed the feverish anxiety 
to get riches which is the curse of England and America. 
Their merchants and manufacturers have alwaj^s taken 
time to cultivate literature, science, the arts, and, above 
all, the domestic virtues. In the days when the guilds 
were in their glory there was much less distinction be- 
tween the rich and the poor than exists at present. The 
guild - houses were something like our modern clubs, 
where all the members stand on terms of equality. 
There the younger workmen, accompanied by their 
wives, met their seniors and employers ; there they en- 
tertained strangers of their own craft, exchanged ideas, 
and developed a sentiment of comradeship which, while 
it gave strength to their order, also gave a feeling of 
contentment wdiich is unfortunately rare in modern life.* 
Albert Diirer has left a charming account of the re- 
ception given him in 1520 by the Painters' Guild at 
Antwerp. " On Sunday," says he, " the painters invited 

* Probably no reader needs to be reminded how the modern world, 
reacting from the do.ctrines of tlie "Manchester School," with its 
motto, " The race to the swift, and tlie devil take the hindmost," is 
turning back towards the guild system of the Middle Ages. Our 
trades-unions, which, witli all their imperfections, have been of ines- 
timable value to the working classes, mark a step in this direction. 
In addition is the modern legislation in Germany for the pensioning 
of old faithful workmen, and that proposed in England for their in- 


me to their guild-hall with my wife and maid-servant. 
They had a quantity of silver plate, and costly furniture, 
and most expensive food. All their wives were with 
them, and as I was led in to the table, every one stood 
up in a row on either side, as if they had been bringing 
in some great lord. Among them were men of very 
high standing, all of Avhom behaved with great respect 
and kindness towards me." While at table, the syn- 
dic of the magistrates came in and gave four cans of 
wine, saying that they sent it to do him honor. ISText 
came Master Peter, the town carpenter, with a present 
of two cans of wine. " When we had been making mer- 
ry together up to a late hour of the night, they accom- 
panied us home in honor with lanterns, and prayed me 
to rely confidently on their good -will. So I thanked 
them, and lay down to sleep." * 

For the most part each guild inhabited a separate 
quarter of the town, and over every quarter two officers 
were appointed by the burgomasters, whose duty it was 
to keep a list of all men in their districts capable of 
bearing arms, to see that their arms were in readiness, 
and to assemble them at the order of the magistrates, or 
upon the ringing of the great town bell. Over all these 
officers were placed two, three, or four captains of the 
burgher guards. When the town bell rang, every citi- 
zen was bound to obey the summons, at any hour of the 
day or night. When called out to service within the 
walls, the several guilds acted under their own banner ; 
but in defence of the state they were accustomed to 
march under the standard of the town, and dressed in 
the city livery. As they were under constant drill, had 
their arms always ready, and were thoroughly organized, 

* Albert Diirer's " Journal." 
I.— 10 


it was the work of an incredibl}^ short space of time to 
man the walls and put a city in a posture of defence.* 

The towns were surrounded by walls, ramparts, and 
moats, and entered through massive gates with portcul- 
lis and drawbridge. "Within, the streets were narrow 
and tortuous, to lessen the advantage of cavalry, archers, 
and crossbow-men. Many of the houses boasted of a cir- 
cular tower, the upper floor of which, reached only by 
a ladder, afforded a temporary retreat to the household 
when pursued by a victorious enemy, foreign or domes- 
tic.f Thus protected, and with a population every mem- 
ber of which was trained to the use of arms, liberty found 
a refuge during the centuries in which most civil rights 
were elsewhere crushed under the iron heel of force. 

Without the walls, however, the cit}^ militia could, as 
a rule, make little stand against the cavalry and heavy 
men at arms of the feudal barons. Yet, early in the 
fourteenth century, when Flanders was a fief of France, 
the Low Countries taught the world a lesson which was 
never entirely forgotten. Philip the Fair, having im- 
prisoned the Count of Flanders, determined to deprive 
the Flemish cities of their chartered rights, and to rule 
there as he ruled at home. The result was an upris- 
ing of the burghers, who, in 1302, under the walls of 
Courtrai, met the French army in a pitched battle. On 
the one side were the picked knights, the flower of the 
French nobility; on the other a collection of traders and 
artisans, merchants, weavers, and butchers. But in the 
marshy ground about the city the heavy men at arms 
became a mob, and fell Uke cattle before the long pikes 
of their antagonists. So great was the slaughter of belted 

* Davies's " Holland," i. 80. 

t Hutton's " Van Arteveld," chap. v. 


knights that Flemish chronicles call this the "Day of 
the Golden Spurs." For the first time the feudal sys- 
tem had broken down on the field of battle. The gla- 
mour was gone. In the marshes of the Netherlands a 
new force had been developed, which, though often tem- 
porarily overpowered, was to grow m strength until the 
final struggle with the whole might of Spain.* 

Next above the guilds stood the organization which 
they looked up to as the author of their being and the 
protector of their privileges — the chartered city or town. 
Many of these towns were old, with prescriptive rights 
of long continuance; but it was not until the twelfth 
century that they began to receive the written char- 
ters which formally defined and guaranteed their lib- 
erties. These charters were granted by the counts or 
lords of the various provinces, were sometimes gained 
by force, oftener bought with hard-earned gold, but al- 
ways guarded with the most jealous care. Although 
differing in details, these instruments were in their main 
features much alike through all the seventeen provinces. 
They conferred the power to make municipal ordinances 
and regulations for the conduct of trade, to levy taxes, 
administer justice in all civil cases, and to punish the 
lower grades of crime. Even the right to inflict capi- 
tal punishment was given to some of the more favored 
towns. In few, if any of them, however, was there an 
approach to a democracy in later times. That had 
passed away with the advance of wealth, the rich mer- 
chants and manufacturers who secured the charters hav- 
ing generally absorbed the power originally lodged in 
the whole body of freemen.f Still, offices were held for 

* Hutton's " Van Arteveld," chap. iii. 

t Liege, however, as late as the fifteenth century elected its magis- 


short terms, and in Holland special regulations were in 
force by which no two members of the government could 
be within a certain degree of consanguinity ; thus pre- 
venting the whole authority from being lodged in the 
hands of a few families, as happened in the cities of 
Italy, especially those of Genoa and Florence.* 

Antwerp may be taken as a type of the large towns 
of the lower provinces, and its form of government il- 
lustrates the amount of freedom secured there in the 
middle of the sixteenth century. At that time it had 
outstripped Bruges, and had become the commercial cap- 
ital of the world. Next to Paris it was the largest city 
in Europe. In its superb exchange five thousand mer- 
chants were daily congregated. At its wharves twenty- 
five hundred vessels often lay at once, and five hundred 
went and came in a single day. Guicciardini says that 
the city contained ten thousand carts constantly em- 
ployed in carrying merchandise to and from the neigh- 
boring country, besides hundreds of wagons for pas- 
sengers, and five hundred coaches used by people of 
distinction.f Among its inhabitants were one hundred 
and twenty-four goldsmiths who acted as bankers. :|: 

trates annuully by universal suffrage, all male citizens above the age 
of sixteen having the right to vote, and being eligible to office. 
Kirk's " Charles the Bold," i. 329. 

* Davies's " Holland," i. 89. 

t In 1564, about the time of the appearance of Guicciardini's book, 
the first coach was introduced into England, being imported from 
Holland for the use of Queen Elizabeth. Nathan Drake's " Shake- 
speare and his Times," p. 415. It caused great astonishment among 
the islanders. Some said it was "a great sea-shell brought from 
China;" others, " that it was a temple in which cannibals worshipped 
the devil." 

X Many of the merchants were possessed of enormous wealth. The 
Fuggers, a German family with headquarters at Augsburg, but with 


The sovereign was simply " Marquis of Antwerp," and 
was sworn to govern according to the ancient charters 
and laws. He was represented by a stadtholder as an 
executive officer. There were four bodies or estates of 
the city which managed its affairs. First, the senate, 
half of whose members were renewed annually, being 
appointed by the stadtholder from a quadruple number 
nominated by the senate itself and by the deacons of the 
guilds ; second, the board of ancients or ex-senators ; 
third, twenty - six ward-masters, selected by the senate 
from a triple number on nomination by the wards; 
fourth, fifty-four deans of the guilds, also selected by 

a branch house at Antwerp, furnish the most notable example of the 
vast fortunes accumulated on the Continent by manufactures and 
commerce during the Middle Ages. Antony, one of the two broth- 
ers, who died just before this time, left six million gold crowns, be- 
sides jewels and other valuable property, and landed iDossessions in 
all parts of Europe and in both the Indies. It was of him that the 
Emperor Charles V., when viewing the roj^al treasures at Paris, ex- 
claimed: "There is at Augsburg a linen-weaver who could pay as 
much as this with his own gold." Of him also the story is told 
that, receiving on one occasion a visit from the emperor, he heated 
the halls of liis princely dwelling with cinnamon-wood, and kindled 
the fire with bonds for an immense sum, representing money bor- 
rowed from him by his royal guest. In wealth the Fuggers were 
the Rothschilds of their time, wliile in political influence they far 
surpassed this modern family. Both brothers were ennobled by 
Charles, and in 1619 forty-seven counts and countesses were num- 
bered among their descendants. Later on some of them became 
princes of the empire, and in the beginning of this century their 
landed estates covered about four hundred and forty square miles. 
Like the other Continental merchants of their time, Antony and his 
brother Raimond were liberal patrons of literature and the arts. 
Their houses were filled with rare paintings and costly books ; they 
supported artists and musicians, and founded hospitals, schools, and 
charitable institutions almost without number. 


the senate from a triple number of candidates presented 
by their constituents. These four branches divided be- 
tween them most of the functions of the government. 
The senate sat as an appellate court, and also appointed 
two burgomasters, two pensionaries or legal counsellors, 
and all lesser magistrates and officials of the city. The 
chief duty of the ward-masters was to enroll, muster, and 
train the militia. The deans of the guilds examined can- 
didates for admission to the guilds, and settled disputes 
among the members. The four bodies, when assembled 
together, constituted the general court, legislature, or 
common council of the city ; but no tax could be imposed 
except with the consent of all four branches, voting sep- 
arately.* As the guilds had long before this time passed 
under the control of the wealthy members, and as the 
suffrage was confined to a limited class, the government 
was essentially aristocratic, but it was free from most 
of the evils of an hereditary aristocracy. All the mem- 
bers, except the ex-senators, went back after a short 
term of service to their constituents — like themselves 
engaged in industrial pursuits — and thus felt the sense 
of direct accountability. They would also naturally 
feel unwilhng, while in office, to pass laws injurious to 
the common good, of which they were so soon to expe- 
rience the ill effects. 

In Holland, and in the northern provinces generally, 
the form of town government was somewhat simpler. 
The senate was composed of two, three, or four burgo- 
masters, and a certain number of schepens, or sheriffs, 
generally seven. Together these officers administered 
the affairs of the town, but the schepens sitting alone 
formed a civil and criminal court. The sovereign was 

* Motley, i. 84. 


represented by an official called a scJiout, whom he ap- 
pointed, but sometimes from three candidates named by 
the senate. A Great Council of the citizens, possessing 
certain property qualifications, met annually, and chose 
eight or nine " Good Men ;" these in turn elected the bur- 
gomasters and the candidates, from whom the schout, 
as representative of his master, selected the schepens.* 

The municipal government and the privileges of the 
towns extended over a certain space outside the Avails, 
which was constantly extended by favor or purchase 
from the sovereign. Beyond these limits lay the open 
country with its rural population, forming the domains 
of the nobles and abbeys, and governed by bailiffs, 
whose office was analogous to that of the city schout. 
Here, especially in the southern provinces, there was 
much less liberty than within the towns. And yet serf- 
dom was abolished in Flanders in the thirteenth cen- 
tury, and the condition of the peasant would, in one re- 
spect at least, compare favorably with that of a person 
of the same class to-da}^. He was an hereditary tenant, 
and could not be evicted from his little plot of land, nor 
subjected to an annual or capricious increase of rent; 
neither could he be compelled to pay for the results of 
improvements which he had made himself.f Some of 
the village communities obtained charters from their 
lords, but they had not the strength to oppose force 
with force when their charters w^ere violated, and they 

* Davies, " Holland," i. 80, etc. 

t Hutton's " Van Arteveld," chap. vi. This system, worthy of at- 
tention from persons interested in the history of Ireland, still prevails 
in Groningen, and to it the great prosperity of the farmers of that 
state is generally attributed. " Holland and its People," De Amicis, 
p. 386. In England serfdom lingered on until the reign of Elizabeth, 
and, perhaps, a little later. Gneist, ii. 329. 


were continually subject to the tyrann}^ of their power- 
ful neiD:hbors in the towns. 

As the cities grew in wealth, strength, and impor- 
tance, they acquired riglits beyond those of mere local 
self-government, for we see them sending deputies to 
the states or legislatures of the separate provinces ; thus 
forming with the nobles, and the clergy in some cases, 
the parliamentar}^ power of the nation. When this right 
was first acquired by the municipalities does not seem 
to be established, but we find it fully settled in Flanders 
as early as 1286.* It probably arose from the custom 
of consulting with them upon matters relating to war 
or foreign alliances, questions in which they were par- 
ticularly interested, and as to which their support would 
be essential to the sovereign. Thus the treaty which 
the Count of Holland made with Edward I, of Eng- 
land in 1281 was guaranteed by the towns. Shortly 
afterwards, the towns of Holland, large and small, are 
seen sending their deputies to the assembly of the 
states, to consider questions of taxation ; but by th-e fif- 
teenth century this privilege was substantially, and by 
the next century wholly, confined to the six principal 
cities of Dordrecht, Harlem, Delft, Leyden, Amsterdam, 
and Gouda.f 

As it would be useless to discuss the organization of 
all the provincial states, we may confine our view to 
that of Holland, which is the most important for our 
purposes. Here the clergy had no representation. The 
six towns sent deputies elected by their senates, each 
town, however, whatever its population, having but one 

* Motley, i. 37. Nine years before an Englisli Parliament. 
f Davies's " Holland," i. 83 ; Motley, i. 37. In the seventeenth cen- 
tury it was extended to twelve other towns. 


vote. The nobles also sent deputies, but they had only- 
one vote conjointly. Thus the towns stood against the 
nobles as six to one, forming a great contrast to the 
early English parliaments. No measure could be adopt- 
ed, nor any tax imposed, without the consent of each of 
the seven bodies represented ; and if any new question 
arose as to which they were uninstructed, the deputies 
were obliged to postpone decision until after consulta- 
tion with their principals. In times of peace no partic- 
ular evil resulted from this extreme states-rights doc- 
trine, but in times of war it became a fertile source of 
weakness, irresolution, and delay. The powers exer- 
cised by the states were of course a shifting quantity, 
expanding under weak rulers, and shrinking under pow- 
erful and arbitrary ones. The most essential, however, 
that of levying taxes, no sovereign of Holland ever vent- 
ured to dispute before the time of Philip II. of Spain.* 
It appears to have been competent for any town to call 
an assembly, but the more common practice was to peti- 
tion the count or his council to do so, and he usually 
convoked them at The Hague, or at some other place in 
which he w^as residing. 

Although the nobles had but one vote in the assem- 
bly, there was another body in which they had great 
power. This was the council of state, or supreme court, 
formed of the chief members of the nobility, selected by 
the counts. The council of state assisted the count in 
the administration of public affairs, guaranteed all trea- 
ties with foreign powers, and in its judicial capacity took 
cognizance of capital offences, both in the towns, unless 
otherwise provided by their charters, and in the open 
country. To this court, usually presided over by the 

* Davies's " Holland/' i. 


count in jDerson, lay an appeal in civil causes from all 
the inferior courts of the province." 

Such, in outline, was the general form of government 
in the countship of Holland, and that of the other states 
was much the same in character, although, as I shall 
show in another place, the system in some of the states 
still farther north was much more democratic. How 
essentially it differed from that in England, and how it 
affected the colonists of America, we shall see hereafter. 
The seventeen provinces were, as already stated, origi- 
nally separate and distinct nationalities, lordships, and 
fiefs ; but in the course of time, beginning in 1384, by 
marriage, purchase, or conquest, all except three gravi- 
tated to the House of Burgundy.f Still, each state al- 
ways retained its separate existence, with its individual 
rights and privileges, its own assembly and council of 
state, and its own stadtliolder, who, appointed by the 
sovereign, acted as his representative. 

In 1477, Charles the Bold, whose fiery passions, chiv- 
alric daring, and wild ambition had for ten years be- 
wildered Europe, fell in battle by an unknown hand, 
leaving but one child, a daughter, Mary, twenty years 
of age. Louis XL was on the throne of France, and at 
once seized the opportunity to take possession of the 
Duchy of Burgundy, as a lapsed fief, and to lay claim to 
all the ^Netherlands. The Duchess Mary was at Ghent, 
and, under the advice of her guardians, called a grand 
congress of all the fourteen provinces then belonging to 
the House of Burgundy, to consider ways and means to 
resist the French aggressions. This was an important 
event, for it was the first meeting of tlie States-General, 

* Davies's " Holland," i. 83. 

t Kirk's " Charles the Bold," i. 56. 


or General Congress of the Netherlands, which played 
so great a part in all the subsequent history of the Low 

It was also important in another aspect. Under the 
rule of Charles the Bold, as well as under that of his 
father, Philip the Good, many inroads had been made 
on the ancient prescriptive rights of the various states. 
The time had now come to retrieve the past and secure 
the future, and the keen-witted deputies summoned to 
the general assembly were not slow to improve their 
opportunity. The States - General were called together 
to grant subsidies for the war with France. The depu- 
ties expressed a willingness to render every service in 
their power, but demanded that their grievances should 
be first redressed. The duchess reluctantly gave way, 
and the result was a formal charter for the separate 
provinces, written, sealed, and sanctioned by the oath of 
the sovereign and her guardians.* The charter granted 
to Holland, called the " Groot Privilegie," or " Great 
Privilege," is worthy of particular attention. 

Its chief provisions were the following : The duchess 
should not marry without the consent of the nobles and 
the states ; she should bestow the offices of the country 
on natives only, no person being allowed to hold two at 
the same time, and none to be let out to farm. The 
Council of Holland was thenceforth to consist of eight 
members besides the stadtholder — six Hollanders and 
two Zeelanders — and no cause of which the municipal 
courts had jurisdiction was to be brought before it ex- 

* Motley, in various places, speaks of the old chartered rights of 
the provinces. As matter of fact, few, if any of them, had charters 
before this time. .- Their rights, unlike those of the cities, rested in 


cept by way of appeal. The right de non evocando, oi 
exemption from prosecution out of their province, was 
to be preserved to all the inhabitants inviolate. The 
towns might hold assemblies with each other or with 
the states, where and as often as they judged necessary. 
No new tolls or other burdens should be enforced with- 
out the consent of the states, and the freedom of trade 
and commerce should be maintained.* IsTeither the 
duchess nor her successors should declare Avar, offensive 
or defensive, without the consent of the states ; and in 
case they did so, no one should be bound to serve. No 
commands of the sovereign should prevail against the 
privileges of the towns. The Dutch language should be 
used in all decrees and letters-patent. No coin should 
be struck, nor any alteration made in the standard of 

* How carefully find wisely the Netherlanders maintained the free- 
dom of trade can be seen from an incident wliich occurred so far back 
as the reign of Edward I. of England. That monarch, in a letter 
addressed to Robert, Earl of Flanders, states that he has learned of an 
active intercourse carried on between the Scotch and the Flemings ; 
and as the Scotch had taken part with Rol)ert Bruce, who was in 
rebellion against him and excommunicated by the pope, he begged 
that the earl would put a stop to this intercourse, and exclude the 
Scotch from his dominions. The earl's answer was full of expres- 
sions of respect for the English king, whom he desired to please, 
but he said frankly, as to the main question : "We must not conceal 
it from your majesty that our country of Flanders is open to all 
the world, where every person finds a free admission. Nor can we 
take away this privilege from persons concerned in commerce with- 
out bringing ruin and destruction upon our country. If the Scotch 
go to our ports, and our subjects go to theirs, it is neither the inten- 
tion of ourselves nor our subjects to encourage them in their error, 
but only to carry on our traffic, without taking any part with them." 
— Rymer's "Fcedcra," iii. 771. This was always the policy of the 
Netherland States and the Dutch Republic. 


money, without the approbation of the states. The towns 
should not be forced to contribute to any petition for 
money, unless they had first consented to it, and the 
petition should be presented to the states by the sover- 
eign in person.* 

This was a pretty broad instrument for the fifteenth 
century, when freedom was being throttled all over the 
rest of Europe. The duchess, to be sure, afterwards de- 
clared it invalid, as obtained from her when a minor, 
and her successors repudiated it and disregarded many 
of its obligations, treating it as the kings of England 
had treated Magna Charta. But to the people it stood 
as a memento of the past and a prophecy of the future. 
They claimed that its provisions Avere not novel, but 
that it only summed up the privileges which they pos- 
sessed before the dukes of Burgundy attempted to in- 
troduce the despotic system which prevailed in France.f 

The Lady Mary marries the son of the Emperor of 
Germany, and thus the ISTetherlands pass to the House 
of Austria, and so down to Charles Y., who acquires the 
three remaining provinces, including democratic Fries- 
land.:}: In 1548, seven years before the abdication of 
his father, Philip II. visited the country to receive the 
homage of his future subjects, and to exchange oaths of 
mutual fidelity. As he passed from state to state the 
people swore fealty to their coming sovereign, and he in 
return swore to respect their various rights and privi- 
leges. In Holland he took an oath " well and truly to 

* D.avies, i. 284, etc. 

t Grotius, " De Antiq. Reip. Bat." cap. v. 

I Grattan. Froissart, who wrote about 1380, said tliat the Frisians 
were a very unreasonable race for not recognizing the authority of 
the great lords. 


maintain all the privileges and freedom of the nobles, 
cities, communities, subjects — lay and clerical— of the 
province of Holland and West Friesland, to them grant- 
ed by my ancestors, counts and countesses of Holland ; 
and, moreover, their customs, traditions, usages, and rights 
which they now have and use." * His father and grand- 
father had sworn to maintain only the limited privi- 
leges admitted by the usurping House of Burgundy, but 
he bound himself to maintain all ever granted by any 
of his predecessors. They, however, had been rather 
better than their promises — for, in the main, they had 
respected all the privileges of the states and cities — but 
he proved much worse than his. The right of self-tax- 
ation he, for the first time, attempted to set aside. The 
result was revolution : the people demanded all their 
privileges, and the Magna Charta of Holland became the 
foundation of the Dutch Republic. 

Passing now from the question of the civil govern- 
ment, and reserving for another place a discussion of 
some features in the legal system of the country, let us 
next look at the subject of education in the Netherlands. 
Here we shall see why the Reformation made such rapid 
advances among this people ; and when we add a view 
of the state of public and private morals, we shall be 
able to understand the character of the Dutch Puritan, 
and why it was that little Holland became for so many 
years the bulwark of Protestantism as well as the ref- 
uge of religious and civil liberty in Europe. 

When learning began to revive after the long sleep 
of the Middle Ages, Italy experienced the first impulse. 
'Next came Germany and the contiguous provinces of 
the Low Countries. The force of the movement in 

* Motley, i. 135. 


these regions is shown by an event of great importance, 
not always noticed by historians. In 1400, there was 
estabhshecl at Deventer, in tlie northeastern province of 
the ISTetherlancls, an association or brotlierhood, usually 
called Brethren of the Life in Common. In their strict 
lives, partial community of goods, industry in manual 
labor, fervent devotion, and tendency to mysticism, they 
bore some resemblance to the modern Moravians. But 
they were strikingly distinguished from the members of 
this sect by their earnest cultivation of knowledge, which 
was encouraged among themselves and promoted among 
others by schools, both for primary and advanced edu- 
cation. In 14:30 the Brethren had established forty-five 
branches, and by 1460 more than thrice that number. 
They were scattered through different parts of Germany 
and the Low Countries, each with its school subordinate 
to the head college at Deventer * 

It was in these schools, in the middle of the fifteenth 
century, that a few Germans and IN^etherlanders were, 
as Hallam says, roused to acquire that extensive knowl- 
edge of the ancient languages which Italy as yet exclu- 
sively possessed. Their names should never be omitted 
in any remembrance of the revival of letters ; for great 
was their influence upon subsequent times. Chief among 
these men were "Wessels, of Groningen, "one of those 
who contributed most steadily to the purification of 

* "Their schools were," saysEickhorn, "the first genuine nurseries 
of literature in Germany, so far as it depended on the knowledge of 
languages; and in them was first taught the Latin, and, in process 
of time, the Greek and Eastern tongues." Groningen had also a 
school (St. Edward's) of considerable merit, while at ZwoU, not far 
distant, was another, over which Thomas a Kempis is said to have 
presided. Hallam's " Introduction to the Literature of Europe," i. 85 ; 
Baudry's "European Library," Paris, 1839. 


religion ;" Hegius, of Deventer, under whom Erasmus 
obtained his early education, and who probably was the 
first man to print Greek north of the Alps ; Dringeberg, 
who founded a good school in Alsace ; and Longius, who 
presided over one at Miinster.* 

Thanks to the iniluence of these pioneers in learning, 
education had made great progress among the Nether- 
landers by the middle of the sixteenth century. They 
could not, to be sure, as yet rival the science and culture 
of Italy, but even in some of the upper branches they 
were taking high rank. Alread}?- Erasmus, of Rotterdam, 
the greatest scholar of the age, had filled all Europe with 
his fame. Vesalius, of Brussels, physician to Charles Y. 
and Philip II., was dissecting the human body and pro- 
ducing the first comprehensive and systematic view of 
anatomy.f Sainte Aldegonde was one of the most 
accomplished men of the age. He spoke and wrote 
Latin, Spanish, Italian, French, German, and Flemish. 
He composed poignant Greek epigrams, translated the 
Psalms from Hebrew into Flemish verse for the use of 
the Reformed Church, was a profound lawyer and theo- 
logian, an eloquent orator, a skilful diplomatist, and a 
writer of European celebrit3^:|: William of Orange him- 
self was no mean scholar. He also spoke and wrote 
with facility Latin, French, German, Flemish, and Span- 
ish. Apart from these, there was a host of other men 

* Hallam, i. 142. 

t "Vesalius, a native of Brussels, has been termed the founder of 
human anatomy, and his great work, ' De Humani Corporis Fabrica,' 
is even yet a splendid monument of art as well as science. It is said, 
although probably incorrectly, that the figures were designed by 
Titian." — WhewelPs "Hist, of the Inductive Sciences," iii. 394; 
Ilallam, i. .364. 

X Motley's " United Netherlands," i. 146. 


of varied accomplishments, many of them of deep and 
extensive learning. 

Still, the country was not, at this time, distinguished 
for the great scholarship which, half a century later, was 
to make the new republic the home of philosophy and 
science, as well as of the arts. The foundations of this 
edifice, however, were already laid in the almost univer- 
sal education of the people. About a century before 
this period printing from movable type had been invent- 
ed. That the Hollanders were the inventors may well 
be doubted ; but, however this may be, no other nation 
ever put the invention to better use. They began at the 
bottom, and, placing the spelling-book and reader in the 
hands of every child, at a time when the mass of the Eng- 
lish nation was wholly illiterate,"^ gave to all classes an 
elementary education. The extent to which the inhab- 
itants of the cities had profited by these advantages, 
before the outbreak of the war with Spain, may well 
seem phenomenal even at the present day. Motley, 
writing of Antwerp in the middle of the sixteenth cen- 
tury, says "it was difiicult to find a child of sufficient age 
who could not write and speak at least two languages." f 
But this phenomenal education was not confined to the 
cities. Guicciardini, in describing the people of Holland 
at this time, tells us that many of the nobles living a 
retired life devoted themselves wholly to literature, and 
even the peasants were able to read and write well.:]: 

In all the principal cities of the I*^etherlands were to 
be found the so-called Guilds of Ehetoric. These were 
associations of mechanics and artisans, who amused them- 
selves with concerts, dramatic exhibitions, and the rep- 

* Natlian Drake, " Shakespeare and his Times," p. 210, etc. 
t Motley, i. 84. J Davies's " Holland," i. 487. 

I.— 11 


resentation of allegories, where some moral truth was 
set forth decked out in all the splendor of costume that 
art could devise and wealth supply. These performances 
constituted the chief amusement of the people, and they 
were always more or less instructive. Certainly their 
existence throws much light upon the general intelli- 

It would have been strange indeed if, in such a soil, 
the Keformation had not taken deep and early root. In 
fact, heresy was a very old story in the ITetherlands. 
From the middle of the twelfth century all the sects 
which had arisen to combat or correct the abuses of 
Eome had flourished there. Nowhere was their per- 
secution more relentless, and nowhere was it less suc- 
cessful. With the invention of printing, the old forces 
working against the Church took on a new life. The 
cheapening of books led to the rapid multiplication of 
the Scriptures, and, what was of more importance, their 
publication in the common tongue. Prior to this time 
the idea had prevailed that the Bible was only for the 
learned, and so was to be kept in a language which none 
others could understand. Throwing it open to the peo- 
ple meant a religious revolution. 

In this, the greatest of all steps leading to the Refor- 
mation, Holland took a leading part by printing at Delft, 
in 1477, a Dutch version translated from the Yulgate. 
Before the appearance of Luther's translation into Ger- 
man, several editions of this work were issued from the 
presses of Antwerp and Amsterdam. In 1516, Erasmus 
made an original translation of the ISTew Testament into 
Latin, and thus paved the way for the Eeformation by 
the novel light which he threw upon the Scriptures. In 
a preface to this great work, Erasmus expressed the hope 
that the translation would be continued in all languages. 


SO that the Gospels and Epistles might be read in every 
land and by every person. Six years after reading these 
words, Luther gave to the world his German version of 
the Kew Testament. Well was it said that Erasmus 
laid the egg which Luther hatched. Again, four years 
later, Tyndale, also incited by the work of Erasmus, made 
his translation of the New Testament into Eng-lish.* 
This was published at Antwerp in 1526. 
. In 1535 there appeared the first complete English Bible 
in print. This was the work of Miles Coverdale, who was 
employed to make the translation by Jacob van Mete- 
ren, of Antwerp, the father of Emanuel, the historian of 
the I^etherlands. The translation, which was from the 
"Douche and Latin," was made, and the printing was 
done, at Antwerp, the sheets being sent across the Chan- 
nel by Meteren, " for the advancement of the kingdom 
of Christ in England." f It was not until 1538 that any 
translation of the Bible was printed in England. Prior 
to that date more than fifteen editions of the entire work, 
and thirty-four editions of the N'ew Testament alone, had 
been printed in the ISTetherlands in Dutch and Flemish. 
In no other country were so many copies of the Script- 
ures published at that early day; and not even in Ger- 
many, the home of the Eeformation, were they so gen- 
erally read.:{: 

* Seebolim's " Protestant Revolution," pp. 99-185. 

t The Coverdale Bible was, until recently, supposed to have been 
translated in England. Its history and the connection of Meteren 
with it are given in the " Encyclopaedia Britannica," 9th ed., arti- 
cle " English Bible." The '• Douche " was probably German. 

I " There can be no sort of comparison between the numbers of 
these editions, and consequently the eagerness of the people of the 
Low Co^mtries for Biblical knowledge, and anything that could be 
found in the Protestant states of the empire."— Hallam's " Literature 
of Europe," i. 300. 


This exceptional dissemination of tlie Scriptures ex- 
plains the religious history of the Netherlands. With 
the Bible in a known tongue, and through universal ed- 
ucation the property of the masses, the Keformation 
here vras inevitable. The same causes which brought it 
about also gave it a peculiar character — a character com- 
mon to most movements among this people of republics. 
It began at the bottom, and worked its way up very 
slowly. In other countries converts to the new belief 
were made among the royal classes. In such cases, of 
course, their subjects became Protestants. In fact, the 
doctrine was early laid down, and was finally settled at 
the Diet of Augsburg, which, in 1555, gave a temporary 
religious peace to Germany, that the people were always 
to follow the faith of their ruler ; in other Avords, the 
prince was to choose a religion for his subjects."^-" This 
was the theory of the age. "Cujus regio, ejus religio" 
was the motto. The enforcement of this political doc- 
trine explains the extirpation of heresy in Italy and 
Spain, and finally in France. Save in one instance, 
Protestantism continued as a power only in the coun- 
tries where the sovereigns or great nobles became its 
early converts. The ^Netherlands form the one excep- 
tion to the rule, and because they do so their religious 
history is of absorbing interest. It may almost be said, 
in truth, that in every other country of Europe the Ref- 
ormation was a political movement, while here it was 
a religious one.i" 

In 151Y, Luther began his contest with Eome by the 
exhibition of his ninety-five theses against indulgences. 

* Fisher, "Outlines of History," p. 410. 

■•■ It Avas not until 1573, more than fifty years after the opening of 
the Reformation, that William of Orange became a Protestant. 


Four years later, Charles Y., claiming the right to regu- 
late the religion of his subjects in the ISTetherlancls, issued 
an edict which shows that heresy was gaining ground. 
" As it appears," says he, " that the aforesaid Martin is 
not a man, but a devil under the form of a man, and 
clothed in the dress of a priest, the better to bring the 
human race to hell and damnation, therefore all his dis- 
ciples and converts are to be punished with death and 
forfeiture of all their goods." The next year the pope, 
at the request of the emperor, sent him an inquisitor- 
general, and the Inquisition was formally established in 
the JSTetherlands. 

Work began at once. In 1523, two monks were burned 
at Brussels for heresy, and it was noticed that the city 
now began strenuously to favor Lutheranism."-^ Later 
on, another edict forbade all reading of the Scriptures, 
all private assemblies for devotion, and all religious dis- 
cussions under penalty of death. The flames and the 
scaffold were called on to enforce these edicts, and yet, 
strangely enough as it then appeared, the schism spread. 
In 1533, Mary, the regent, wrote to her brother that " in 
her opinion all heretics, whether repentant or not, should 
be prosecuted with such severity as that error might be 
at once extinguished, care being only taken that the 
provinces were not entirely depopulated." In 1535, an 
imperial edict issued at Brussels condemned all heretics 
to death; repentant males to be executed with the 
sword, repentant females to be buried alive ; the obsti- 
nate of both sexes to be burned. Finally, in 1550, a 
new edict re-enacted all former provisions, and, adding 
novel offences, made even the entertaining of heretical 
opinions or the concealment of heretics punishable with. 

* Motley, i. 77. 


death, while directing all judicial officers to render as- 
sistance to the Inquisition, any privileges or charters to 
the contrary notwithstanding.* 

How rigorously these laws were enforced is shown b}'" 
the appalling records of the executioners. History calls 
Mary of England " Bloody Mary," because in her reign 
two hundred and seventy-seven persons suffered death for 
their religion.f These, with a few victims put to death 
by her father, and some isolated cases in preceding 
reigns, make up the sum of all the religious martyrs of 
England until Elizabeth ascended the throne in 1558. 
'Now let us look across the Channel. Grotius, who was 
well informed upon such subjects, says that a hundred 
thousand heretics were put to death in the IsTetherlands 
under the edicts of Charles Y.j;. According to Motley, 
the number has never been placed at a lower mark than 
fifty thousand. § If even this latter computation is cor- 
rect, the victims of the Inquisition in the Netherlands, 
before the days of Philip II., probably exceeded in num- 
ber all those who have suffered death under its judg- 
ments in all the other countries of Europe combined, 
from the days of the Reformation until the present 
time. I 

* Motley, i. 77, 80, 261, 331. 

t Neal's " History of the PLiritans," i. 64. 

I "Annals," lib. i. 17 (Amsterdam, 1658). 

§ Motley, i. 114; Davies's "Holland," i. 498. Prescott, lioM'ever, 
questions these figures, " Philip H." i. 380. It may be noted that 
other modern writers agree with Prescott. 

II Prior to the appointment of Torquemada, in 1483, as Inquisitor- 
general of Spain, the victims there had been very few. From 1483 
to 1808, the whole number who suffered death in Spain is placed at 
about 32,000 by Llorente, who was Secretary of the Madrid Inqui- 
sition from 1789 to 1791, and claimed to have access to the records. 
See his " Critical History of the Spanish Inquisition." Catholic writ- 


Such was the rehgious record of this people when, in 
1555, the dominion over the seventeen provinces passed 
to Phihp II. of Spain. Already some fifty thousand 
men and Avomen had laid down their lives for the doc- 
trines of the Eeformation, and yet converts were on the 
increase. In the early days, under the influence of 
Germany, the theological sj'stem of Luther was in the 
ascendant ; but later on the Huguenots from France 
brought in the doctrines of Calvin, who went to Geneva 
in 1536, and Calvinism became the faith of the major- 
ity of the reformers. This it was that bound them so 
closely to the Puritans of England, who all accepted 
substantially the same system of Calvinistic theology. 
Still, the Lutherans were not insignificant in numbers, 
and, being found mostly among the upper classes, their 
influence was considerable. A third sect, larger than 
the Lutherans, but without political or social influence, 
was the Anabaptists, or Mennonites, who were found 
mainly among the poor of Holland.* These people, of 
whom we shall see much more hereafter, were in some 
respects the most interesting and picturesque of all, ex- 
erting the greatest influence on the independent sects of 
England and America. 

Before closing this chapter, and with it our general 
view of the progress and condition of the ^Netherlands 

ers assert that he has placed the figures too high. Those who were 
put to death in other countries outside of Spain were too few to 
run the aggregate up to 50.000. It may not be without interest to 
notice here that tlie total number of the victims of the St. Barthol- 
omew Massacre in France, those in Paris and elsewhere, is estimated 
at from 20,000 to 30,000. Baird's " Else of the Huguenots in France," 
ii. 530. 

* Prescott's " Philip II.," ii. 23. 


at the time of the outbreak with Spain, we may well 
glance at the state of their private and public morals. 
We have seen the intellectual advance, the general edu- 
cation, and the wide dissemination of the Bible, which 
prepared this people to receive religious teachings. All 
this, however, would have been of little avail as a prep- 
aration for the permanent reception of the doctrines of 
the Eeformation, had there not been something beyond 
a mere Intel] ectual cultivation, or even a religious fervor. 
We must remember — and no one can understand the 
history of Europe in the fifteenth, sixteenth, or even the 
seventeenth century who loses sight of the fact — that in 
many countries, and with many persons, there was little 
connection between morality and religion, and still less 
between either of these subjects and theological dogmas. 
To a large class religion was a mere affair of the mind, a 
question of intellectual belief, having no beneficial influ- 
ence upon the outer life. Men like Benvenuto Cellini lie, 
steal, and murder, but are devout Catholics; not hyp- 
ocritical, but honestly believing that they are w^atched 
over by the angelic hosts and visited by spirits from 
heaven.* Philip II. commits almost every form of sin, 
violates every rule of morals, and yet dies in the odor of 
sanctity, suffering the most excruciating agonies with all 
the fortitude of the early martyrs. He seems never to 
have doubted the fact of his direct translation to the 
abodes of bliss, since they were reserved for those who 
trusted in Mother Church. Perhaps the most remarka- 
ble illustration of all is found in the life and writiuffs of 

* See his Autobiography, which is as fascinating as any romance 
and as instructive as any treatise on psycliology. It gives tlie por- 
trait of a real man, an Italian of the early part of the sixteenth cen- 


Margaret of Angouleme, sister of Francis I., and Queen 
of JSTavarre. Here was a woman of a deeply religious 
nature, mystical — even inclined, it was thought, to Prot- 
estantism — herself of a pure life, who writes a series of 
stories, not only grossly impure, but showing an entire 
absence of the moral sense. Honor, chivalry, and relig- 
ion all bloom in the " Heptameron," but morality of 
any kind has no place.* 

JSTor was this severance of morality from religion con- 
fined to those who belonged to the Church of Eome. 
Among many of the Protestant sects there was to be 
found wild religious enthusiasm mingled with a disre- 
gard of all the obligations of a moral code. Cromwell, 
when in power, leads an unchaste life, keeps his mis- 
tresses, and is said to have had several illegitimate chil- 
dren ; but he is always devout, and dies in the faith, as- 
sured of his salvation ; not because he repents, but from 
an intellectual belief that, having once been one of the 
elect, he must be saved. f The men who built up the 
English Church, and those who afterwards founded the 
Commonwealth, were earnest in their theological convic- 
tions, and it shows little knowedge of human nature to 
think of them as hypocrites. Many of them were au- 
stere of life and pure of morals, but many others, because 
they believed in certain theological dogmas, thought 
themselves absolved from ordinary moral obligations. 
In all this they w^ere but exhibiting a phase of human 
nature common to all men at a peculiar stage of their 

* See " Margaret of Angouleme, Queen of Navarre," by Robinson, 
" Famous Women Series ;" also Baird's " Rise of the Huguenots," 
i. 119, etc. 

t Guizot's " Life of Cromwell." 


When now Ave turn to the Protestant states of the 
Netherlands, we find much less of this separation. There 
morality and religion commonly went hand in hand. It 
was because the people were intelligent and moral, be- 
fore they felt the influence of the religious revival, that 
the Reformation made such permanent progress in their 
midst. Protestantism is not the religion for a nation of 
free livers. Individuals may be affected, whole commu- 
nities may be swept over with a wave of enthusiasm, 
but a people cannot permanently stand face to face with 
their Creator — and that was the idea of the Keformation 
until theology devised its iron bands to cramp the souls 
of men — unless beneath a religious zeal there is a foun- 
dation of sound public and private morals. This was 
shown in the experience of the Netherlands. At the 
outset the southern provinces, more vivacious and with 
more active intellects, furnished the most zealous con- 
verts to the doctrines of the Reformation, but they 
never formed a majority of the population, and much 
of the early fervor was soon exhausted. The northern 
provinces stood faithful to the end, making wp in con- 
stancy what they seemed to lack in fire. It has been 
already stated that the ultimate line of cleavage fol- 
lowed that of race ; it is an interesting fact that it also 
followed that of morals. 

In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the lower 
states of the Netherlands were rather distinguished for 
high drinking, fast living, and general immorality. By 
the middle of the sixteenth century this reputation was 
much modified, Italy and France having thrown all oth- 
er seats of vice into the shade. Still, there was then, as 
there always had been, a great contrast in matters of 
morality between the southern and the northern prov- 
inces. Both, it may be observed, had the German vice 


of drunkenness largely developed. There was some- 
thing in the blood, and more in the climate, which predis- 
posed these people to an indulgence which the Latin races 
looked down on with disgust and horror. Yet, as the 
same writers who mention the drunkenness also inform 
us that there were no beggars and no worthless poor in 
Holland, we must either believe that excessive drinking 
was not followed by its legitimate results, or that the 
drunkenness was largely confined to the upper classes. 
The latter is the more reasonable explanation, for no 
nation of sots could have done the work which these 
men accomplished.* 

With the exception of this one vice, the people of 
Holland were distinguished above all the nations of Eu- 
rope for industry, integrity, and general purity of mor- 
als, and these traits of character they never lost. For- 
eigners sometimes charged them with too great desire 
for gain, despite their devotion to science and the arts, 
but no one ever questioned their integrity. Public hon- 
esty is of later growth than that of individuals, men in 
a body often performing acts which singly they would 
condemn ; but even here Holland has no superior in his- 
tory. Throughout her long war with Spain the national 
credit stood unimpaired. The towns, when besieged, is- 
sued bonds which often were sold at a large discount; 
and men were found who, as in later times among our- 
selves, urged that the purchasers should only receive the 
money they had paid. Ko such counsels, however, pre- 
vailed in a single instance. The debts of the towns, like 
those of the state, were invariably paid in fuU.f 

* Camden says that the English acquired their taste for strong 
drink in the Netherland wars. " History of Elizabeth." 
t Davies's " Holland," 2'xissim. 


Perhaps the most conclusive proof, not only of the 
high state of morality, but also of the general advance- 
ment of the people, is found in the position of their 
women. Says Guicciardini : " They hold adultery in 
horror. Their Avomen are extremely circumspect, and 
are consequently alio^Yed much freedom. They go out 
alone to make visits, and even journeys, without evil re- 
port ; they are able to take care of themselves. More- 
over, they are housekeepers, and love their households." 
JSTor was that all ; the women were educated, and, as 
among some Continental na,tions of modern times, min- 
gled in all the business of life, buying and selling, and in 
many cases taking entire charge of the family property. 
The virtue of such wives was not that of the harem, 
whether guarded by eunuchs or duennas ; it was the fruit 
of a high civilization developed on the moral as well as 
the intellectual side. "What part these women took in 
the great struggle for liberty is a familiar story. 



At the first glance it may seem strange that such a 
people as the Netherlanders submitted to so much relig- 
ious persecution before rising in rebellion against their 
sovereign, A little reflection, however, suggests the 
answer. In the first place, they were pre-eminently a 
peaceful race, engaged in commerce and manufactures, 
and for many years unused to war; while their ruler 
commanded the largest and best-disciplined armies of 
the world. 'Next, those who suffered from the Inquisi- 
tion under Charles Y. were all from the poorer classes, 
and the death of a few thousand scattered peasants or 
artisans made but little impression on any community 
three centuries ago. There was no concert of action 
among the victims or their friends, and they Avere in a 
small and weak minority. In addition, the excesses of 
some of the early reformers excited the fears of the timid, 
and in the religious excitement of the times many of the 
supporters of the established church became as zealous 
in its reformation and defence as were the Protestants 
in their opposition to it. 

Among the people at large, Charles was a great favor- 
ite. He was born in the E^etherlands, lived much in his 
native land, spoke the language, was free and jovial in 
his manners, was a famous soldier, and his countrymen 
felt proud of him an(J his achievements. He probably 


had designs upon their Uberties, and purposed, when he 
had the opportunity, to make them into one nation. But 
the time never came ; and so, in the main, he respected 
their ancient rights, even to the point of keeping the 
Inquisition out of some of the provinces which refused 
it entrance. 

With his son and successor all this was changed. 
Philip was a stranger, born in Spain. He spoke no lan- 
guage except Spanish ; he had no friends except Span- 
iards ; he cared for no country except the one of his 
nativity. Regardless of their rights, he forced the In- 
quisition on all the provinces ; in violation of his oath, he 
filled the offices wath foreigners ; and, unlike his father, 
he trampled on rich and poor alike. Charles had not 
ruled in the interest of any particular section of his vast 
dominions. He had established no capital, but moved 
about with his court from place to place. The new 
monarch settled in Madrid. He purposed to build up a 
gigantic Spanish monarchy, of which his other posses- 
sions were to be mere provinces. When these designs 
finally became apparent, all classes in the Netherlands 
were aroused, and rebellion w^as inevitable. 

Eleven years elapsed after the abdication of Charles 
before there was any combined resistance among the 
people. They were years of misrule, violation of char- 
tered rights, and extension of the Inquisition. At first, 
Philip had attempted to quarter Spanish troops upon the 
country, but the abandonment of this scheme had been 
forced upon him by the indignant protests of the whole 
community. He himself w^as in Spain, but he was rep- 
resented in the Netherlands by Margaret of Parma — a 
natural daughter of his father — and a council mostly 
composed of Spaniards. At length, a large number 
of the wealthy merchants and the lesser nobles were 


aroused to demand a cessation of the cruelties practised 
upon their poorer brethren. They signed a bond of 
alliance, by which they engaged themselves under oath 
to resist to the utmost of their power the continuance of 
the Inquisition, as contrary to all laws human and divine, 
and to devote their lives and fortunes to the protection 
of each other. In April, 1566, several hundred of the 
confederates, plainly clad, appeared before the regent 
and presented a petition, setting forth that the Inquisi- 
tion was likely to breed rebellion, and asking her to 
suspend its operations. Margaret was much disturbed, 
but made no answer. Seeing her agitation, one of the 
council cried out : " What, madam ! is it possible your 
highness can fear these beggars?" The words spread 
like wildfire. The members of the alliance adopted the 
name hurled at them as a taunt, dressed themselves and 
their families in plain gray clothes, fastened in their 
caps a little wooden porringer, and hung about their 
necks a medal on which a wallet was engraved. Many 
of them were subsequently to prove recreant to the 
cause ; but the name survived, and the " Beggars " of 
the sea and land have become historic. 

The action of the nobles at once emboldened the com- 
mon people. Among them, despite the torture and the 
flames, the Reformation had taken a gigantic stride. 
At first, they had studied the Bible and held their 
meetings in private ; now, they came out into the plains 
and public fields around the cities, gathering by thou- 
sands, " to show," they said, " how many the Inquisi- 
tion would have to burn, slay, and banish." Attempts 
were made by the authorities to disperse these as- 
semblies ; and then the reformers went out as if to battle, 
stationed guards about their encampments, with gun, 
pike, and sword in hand listened to the fervent elo- 


quence of their impassioned preachers, sang one of the 
old war songs of David, and returned home in military 

Under such a stimulus soon came the inevitable out- 
break. In August, 1566, four months after the " Beg- 
gars " had presented their petition to the regent, the 
customary procession of a miraculous image of the Virgin 
passed through the streets of Antwerp. As the priests 
swept along they were greeted by the jeers of the pop- 
ulace: "Mayken! May ken!" (little Mary) "your hour 
is come." A riot ensued, the crowd hurried to the 
cathedral, began to tear down the images, overthrow 
the altars, cut out the pictures, burn the mass-books, 
and shatter the gorgeous painted windows. For two 
days this work of iconoclasm went on; then it passed 
to the other churches, and thence to the neighboring 
towns and provinces, until, within a fortnight, five or six 
hundred sacred edifices had been despoiled of their in- 
valuable art treasures. Strangely enough, all this was 
the work of but a few persons from the lower classes, 
who committed no violence to man or woman, and kept 
none of the plunder for themselves.* 

The immediate result of this outbreak was favorable 
to the reformers. Margaret, in terror, first thought of 
flight, and then published an " Accord " which abolished 
the Inquisition and permitted the preaching of the new 
doctrine. With joy the people began to assemble un- 
armed, and even to erect buildings for their meetings. 
The reaction, however, was very speedy. The upper 
classes in the Netherlands were artistic in all their 
tastes. Their aesthetic as well as their religious feelings 
were shocked at the destruction of the treasures, which 

* Motley's " Dutch Republic," i. 565, etc. 


centuries of devotion had heaped up in their splendid 
churches. Besides this, all the moderate men feared the 
effects on business of these popular tumults which would 
draw down the wrath of Philip. The regent soon dis- 
covered the drift of public sentiment and straightway 
changed her policy. Calling in such troops as she could 
command, and with the aid of the Catholic nobles, she 
began a system of repression much more stringent than 
any ever known before. Uprisings followed in various 
quarters. A few skirmishes ensued in which the insur- 
gents were easily routed ; hundreds were put to death, 
and some sections almost depopulated by the exile of 
those who left their homes rather than abandon their 

Meanwhile, all eyes were turned to Spain watching 
for the effect produced on Philip by this last develop- 
ment of Netherland fanaticism. For a time he con- 
cealed his purposes, promising to visit the provinces 
himself, and writing fair words to some of the leading 
citizens. This was but the lull before the hurricane. 
Among the chief advisers of the king was a soldier, the . 
Duke of Alva, always prompting him to measures of 
severity. Some of his other advisers, being civilians, 
now counselled moderation and concession ; Alva urged 
that these " men of butter" could be ruled only by force. 
Supply him with troops, he said, and the war should' 
pay for itself, while in addition he would pour a stream 
of treasure a yard deep into the coffers of the king. Un- 
fortunately for Spain, Philip listened to this advice, and 
committed to the adviser the command of the expedi- 
tion which was to crush out civil and religious liberty 
in the provinces of the Netherlands. 

Alva was a typical Spaniard of the day. He was 
the greatest captain of a state which was now the lead- 
I.— 12 


ing military po^yer of Europe. To understand liim and 
his measures, we must glance at the history of Spain for 
the preceding century. Such a glance will show how 
much evil may be wrought, even in a few short years, 
by the abuse of untrammelled power. 

In 1469, just about one hundred years before, Fer- 
dinand of Aragon was marriect to Isabella of Castile. 
At that time Spain gave almost the fairest promise for 
the future of any country in the world. In the south 
lay Granada, inhabited by the Moors, who had reached 
a degree of excellence in agriculture and in several of 
the mechanical arts unequalled in any other part of 
Europe. Proximity to them had educated the Spaniards 
of Castile, whose cities were unsurpassed by any, except 
by those of Italy and the Netherlands. All through 
the provinces were scattered the Jews who had emulated 
the Arabs in keeping alive the flame of learning dur- 
ing the Middle Ages. In agriculture, manufactures, and 
commerce, the three great sources of national wealth, 
the people were making rapid progress. In popular 
education they for some time led all their contempo- 
raries.* Their libraries were unrivalled, and their uni- 
versities and academies had for centuries attracted 
scholars from all the European states. Spain possessed 
also a fair measure of liberty. The government of Cas- 
tile was as free as that of England, and that of Aragon. 
beyond all question far more so.f 

* The Moors seem to have been the first in modern times to es- 
tablish free schools, of which there were eighty in Cordova alone. 
Prescott's " Ferdinand and Isabella," i. 285. 

t Macaulay's "Essay on Hallam's Constitutional History." Some 
of their important institutions, as I shall show hereafter, have been 
copied by other nations, and as usual without acknowledgment. 


The free institutions of Spain, like those which crop 
out in the history of England before the days of the 
Tudors, arose from the power of the nobles and the 
weakness of the central government. The country was 
divided into separate provinces. The old Gothic love 
of liberty still survived among the nobles ; it made them 
chivalric, but turbulent and unruly. Ferdinand and Isa- 
bella, by consummate address and masterly statesman- 
ship, built up a powerful consolidated monarchy, as the 
Tudors did in England, and as Louis XI. did in France, 
but they crushed out the spirit of freedom. The pe- 
culiar condition of the country, and the great religious 
awakening for which that age is distinguished, made 
this a comparatively easy task. 

First, a fanatical zeal was aroused against the Jews, 
and for their extirpation extraordinary powers were 
confided to the sovereigns, which, once acquired, were 
used against all classes. Then, a crusade was organized 
to expel the Moors. The ten years' holy war which 
followed completed the royal work. The monarchs 
wrested from the Cortes all their judicial functions, and 
conferred them on tribunals of their own creation. They 
obtained from the pope the privilege of filling the bish- 
oprics and grand-masterships of the military orders. 
They reorganized the militia of the cities, and created 
a standing army to overawe and subdue the nobles. 
Finally, they established the Inquisition, ostensibly for 
use against the Jews and Moors, but in its development 
it became a terror to all Spain. The sovereigns had the 
power to name the Grand Inquisitor and all the judges, 
and thus secured an engine of political tyranny une- 
qualled in the world.* 

* Fisher's " Outlines of Universal History," p. 370. 


Meantime, the people were intoxicated with military 
ambition and the triumphs of religious fanaticism. In 
1492, the history of Spain was marked by three events 
which form the turning-point in her career. They were 
the expulsion of tlie Jews, the capture of Granada, fol- 
lowed by the expulsion of the larger part of the Moors, 
and the discovery of America. The disastrous effect of 
the first two acts has been noticed by many writers. 
The Jews and the Moors were the most enlightened, the 
most industrious, the most progressive people of the 
whole peninsula. Driving out one hundred and sixty 
thousand of one race and a million of the other dealt 
a severe blow to the national prosperity. Still, it is 
questionable whether the country suffered as much in 
the end from this cause as from the voyage of the im- 
mortal Columbus. 

The opening-up of the New World has been called the 
greatest event in historj'". So perhaps it was, but to 
Spain it was the greatest curse. Before that time her 
people were tilling the soil, building up manufactures, 
and spreading their commerce, laying the foundations 
of a substantial and enduring prosperity. The wealth 
of Mexico and Peru changed them into a race of advent- 
urers and robbers. Who would cultivate the land, or 
toil at the loom or by the furnace, when bold men across 
the seas were winning with the sword treasures of gold, 
silver, and precious stones, which they could not count, 
but measured by the yard!* In 1512, Gonsalvo, the 
Great Captain, had raised an army for service in Italy. 
Before marching, an order came for its disbandment. 
At the time a squadron, bound for the ISTew World, was 
lying in the Guadalquivir. Its complement was fixed 

* Prescott's " Conquest of Peru." 


at twelve hundred men, but at once three thousand 
of the recent volunteers, many of them representing 
noble families, clad in splendid armor on which their 
all had been expended, hastened to Seville and pressed 
to be admitted into the Indian armada. Seville itself 
was said, about this period, to have been almost de- 
populated by the general fever of adventure, so that 
it seemed to be tenanted only by females.* 

The demoralization extended to all classes of the com- 
munity. Honest labor came to be despised in the race 
for ill-gotten wealth. Gold and silver poured in, fort- 
unes were amassed ; but the prosperity was all illusive, 
for, with agriculture and manufactures neglected, the 
land was impoverished and the sun of Spain was going 
down. It set, however, in a blaze of military glory. 
The men trained in the wars of Ferdinand and Isa- 
bella became under Charles Y. the bravest, best-disci- 
plined, and most skilful soldiers since the days of the 
Eoman legions, ximong no race has ever been shown 
greater constancy in hardships, or greater prowess in 
the field. In the Old World, as in the ISTew, they fought 
not alone for glory, but for the spoils of victor}^. When 
captured cities were given up to plunder, private proj)- 
erty distributed among the conquerors, and prisoners 
were for heavy sums ransomed from their captors, bold 
and adventurous spirits looked to no other means than 
war for making or adding to their fortunes.f 

* Prescott's " Ferdinand and Isabella," iii. 370, 471. 

t The prejudice against honest labor which had grown up in Spain 
must be kept in mind, if we would understand the conduct of the 
Spaniards in the Netherlands. Not only were the insurgents rebels 
and heretics, but, being engaged in industrial pursuits, they were 
looked down upon as men entitled to none of the rights accorded 


A century of such training had bred the man who now 
turned his hungry eyes upon the rich and fertile jSTeth- 
erlands. The Duke of Alva had been a soldier since 
his boyhood, having fought in Italy, in Germany, and 
against the Turks, winning his way to the highest hon- 
ors. While he was an infant bis father was killed in 
an engagement with the Moors ; the son grew up sworn 
to wreak vengeance on all unbelievers. In his youth 
he was the favorite cavalier of romance and song. Mar- 
ried at twenty-two, he had in seventeen days ridden 
from Hungary to Spain and back, in order to see his 
bride for a few hours. All this, however, had long since 
passed away. Under forty years of Spanish warfare 
his youthful chivalry had ripened into fanaticism, cruel- 
ty, and avarice. At sixty years of age, tall, thin, erect, 
with a long face and yellow cheeks, piercing black eyes, 
and a sable silvered beard, he looked the imperturbable 
man of fate. The army now intrusted to his command 
numbered only ten thousand men. The force seems 
small for the subjugation of even seventeen little prov- 
inces, but it was made up of the picked veterans of Eu- 
rope. "With a thousand less efficient troops, Cortez had 
taken Mexico, and with a hundred and eighty Pizarro 
had reduced Peru. Besides this, behind the commander 
stood the wealth of Spain, and the ability to hire all 
the mercenaries of the world. 

In August, 1567, Alva and his army reached the 
jN^etherlands. There they found an outward calm. The 
public preaching of the reformers had been suppressed, 
and most of the nobles showed contrition for their pre- 
vious disloyalty. The regent was satisfied that all dis- 

to members of the noble or military orders. This feeling, as we shall 
see hereafter, was not confined to the Spaniards. 


turbances were at an end, and implored her brother and 
his representative to pardon the past and pursue a pol- 
icy of peace. Of this the Spaniards had no idea. What ! 
pardon men whose bodies they purposed to burn, and 
tlieir estates to confiscate ? What would become of the 
gold-mine which they had marched so far to open ? 

Alva began his work with celerity and decision. The 
month after his arrival he organized, without semblance 
of law, the tribunal for the punishment of those engaged 
in the late disorders, which has made his name so in- 
famous. He called it the Council of Troubles, but it 
soon acquired the title of the Council of Blood. It was 
composed of twelve members, but only two of the num- 
ber (both Spaniards) had a vote. Even these two could 
only recommend, the final decision resting with Alva, 
who soon became governor-general, as the regent threw 
up her office in despair. 

In this council, Alva worked seven hours a day. Be- 
fore three months had passed, eighteen hundred persons 
had suffered death by its summary proceedings, some of 
them the highest in the land.* It had no rules and no 
regular system of practice; an accusation was made, 
depositions were obtained in secret and submitted to 
the board, and then the sentence of death almost imme- 
diately followed. The one great crime seemed to be 
that of having wealth. Men guilty of this offence had 
little assurance of safety except in flight. 

The effect of these proceedings upon the peaceful 
IS'etherlanders may be imagined, it certainly cannot be 
described. A terror seized upon them, such as is felt by 
the peasants living on Vesuvius when the crater begins 
to belch forth liquid flame. Still, the latter can flee 

* Motley, ii. 136. 


before their enemy ; but very soon no such refuge was 
left to the miserable men who withered before this fiery 
blast. They were leaving the country in such numbers 
that Alva placed a substantial embargo on all vessels, 
and established a system for the examination of trav- 
ellers by land, which made escape almost impossible. 
However, the exodus to England had already taken 
place, which, as we shall see hereafter, was largely to 
affect her future. 

From the character of his reception in the ISTether- 
lands, Alva may have considered the subjugation of the 
country an easy task. If so, he was speedily undeceived. 
To be sure, the common people seemed cowed by terror, 
and most of the nobles and the wealthy citizens at- 
tempted to make their peace. Still, there remained two 
enemies unsubdued, and while they were free the strug- 
gle was not ended. The one was a man, William, Prince 
of Orange ; the other was the sea, the friend of liberty, 
the vassal of the IsTetherlands. 

The man did not at that time appear to Alva a formi- 
dable adversary. For us he stands out on the page of 
history as one of its most heroic characters. Unlike our 
"Washington, whom in many traits of character he much 
resembled, he was born to high rank, wealth, and lux- 
ury. From his earliest youth he had been the associate 
of emperors and kings. A soldier, an orator, a diplo- 
matist, he loved society and pleasure. All these acces- 
sories of life he cheerfully abandoned. For his country 
he sacrificed his private fortune, sought exile, poverty, 
almost disgrace. He lived to see his well-loved Holland 
substantially redeemed, and died the "Father WiUiam" 
of his people.* 

* He was the author of the sayiug, imputed to so many others, 


Born in 1533, at fifteen he became the page and favor- 
ite of Charles Y., at eighteen one of his trusted counsel- 
lors, at twenty-one commander of an army. "When the 
emperor went through the magnificent ceremony of his 
abdication, it w^as upon the arm of William of Orange that 
he leaned. Under Philip he was sent as a hostage to 
the Court of France. While there the incident occurred 
from which he has been called the " Silent." The French 
monarch supposed that his princely guest was fully in 
the confidence of the King of Spain. Hence, one day 
while hunting, he unfolded to him all the details of a 
scheme by which the two monarchs, reconciled with 
each other, were to crush out heresy in their respective 
kingdoms. The prince listened in silence to the fateful 
secret, neither then nor thereafter, by word or action, 
betraying his feelings at the revelation. Forewarned, 
however, he devoted his life to counteract the plot, and 
to rid his country of the hated Spaniards. He was a 
Catholic, but he believed in religious toleration ; he was 
a Netherlander, and therefore believed in civil libert}^ 

When Philip returned to Spain he appointed William 
of Orange stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, and Utrecht. 
He was also made a member of the grand council of 
Margaret, the regent. Knowing the gravity of the situ- 
ation, he went cautiously about his life-task. He took 
little part in demonstrations, but set out to fortify him- 
self impregnably in the hearts of the people. Always 
counselling moderation, he softened the rigors of the 
government, while so acting as to force its hand. He 
aided in putting down the iconoclastic riots, but then 

"A friend is cheaply bought by a bow." It was his answer when 
reproached with too much condescension to the poor. Du Maurier, 
p. 167. Davies's " Holland," ii. 149. 


interposed on the side of mercy. 'No other man in the 
country seemed so fully to realize what Philip intended 
by sending Alva with an army to the Netherlands. 
When their coming was definitely settled, "William re- 
solved on flight. 

The exile, as Prince of Orange, had estates in Ger- 
many, and thither he retired. He had strong friends 
among the Protestants of the empire, and with them, 
with the Huguenots of France, and the Puritans of Eng- 
land, began to build up a party against Spain. Among 
his firmest allies were his own four brothers, who through 
good and evil report clung to his fortunes, three of them 
laying down their lives in the contest for liberty. With 
their aid, by subscriptions from the ISTetherland cities 
and from the refugees in England, through the sale of 
his own jewels, plate, and tapestry, and, when these 
were gone, by loans on his individual credit, several ar- 
mies were raised with which in the summer and fall 
of 1568 he levied war on Alva. His commissions ran 
in the name of Philip, just as those of the Long Par- 
liament of England subsequently ran in the name of 
Charles I. 

Events proved that raw levies could not make stand 
against the disciplined troops of Spain, and that the 
mass of the people were not yet ripe for revolution. 
In an early engagement, to be sure, the insurgents 
achieved a success by entrapping the enemy into a mo- 
rass, as their ancestors had done at the battle of Cour- 
trai ; but they were ultimately routed in the open coun- 
try, with a loss of seven thousand against a Spanish loss 
of seven. Upon this venture the Prince of Orange had 
risked his all. ISTow, broken in fortune, with his Neth- 
erland estates under confiscation, harassed by creditors, 
and with military prestige gone, he joined the Hugue- 


nots in France, to fight there the conflict which at home 
seemed temporarily hopeless.* 

One enemy appeared to be snbdued. In the autumn 
of 1568 Alva erected a monument at Antwerp to com- 
memorate his triumph. It consisted of a colossal statue 
of himself, with a man having two heads lying at his 
feet. What he intended the prostrate figure to repre- 
sent was explained to no one. Some thought that it 
represented the Prince of Orange and his brother Louis ; 
some, Egmont and Horn, who had recently been exe- 
cuted; others, the nobles and commons of the ISTether- 
lands. As the duke was one day busied in its con- 
templation, a companion, accustomed to take liberties, 
remarked " that the heads grinned so horribly, it was to 
be feared they would wreak a signal vengeance if ever 
they should rise again." f The people treasured up the 
prophecy. To Alva it must have seemed absurd. Con- 
strue the riddle as one mio'ht, at least he had the two 
heads under foot. But he left out of calculation his 
other enemy, the sea. 

While in France, the Prince of Orange was advised 
by Coligny to abandon for the present all thought of 
operations by land, which were expensive and therefore 
now impracticable, and to confine his warfare to the 
ocean. The wise suggestion was speedily adopted. 
There was no money for the equipment of a navy, but 
there were scores of brave and hardy sailors, owning 

* Some idea of the state in which he had formerly lived can be 
gathered from the fact that on one occasion, desiring to reduce his 
establishment, he dismissed twenty -eight head cooks. To have 
served in his household was a sufficient recommendation for a ser- 
vant to any prince in Germany. Prescott's " Philip II.," i. 487. 

t Davies"s " Holland," i. 565. 


their own vessels, who were only too happy to carry 
on a private war. With commissions to cruise against 
the Duke of Alva and his adherents, these "Beggars 
of the Sea," as they called themselves, soon made their 
power felt. 

From the ocean was struck the first blow which 
strengthened the hands of the Prince of Orange. Its 
eif ects were not then appreciated ; in fact, it seemed like 
a misfortune ; but it contributed somewhat to force 
England into the controversy, and also to bring about 
the consolidation of the Catholics and Protestants at 
home which was essential to a successful revolution. 
Early in 1569, some privateers, holding commissions 
from the Prince of Conde, chased into the ports of Eng- 
land several merchantmen belonging to Spain, with 
eight hundred thousand dollars in specie, borrowed from 
Itahan bankers for the payment of Alva's troops. Ke- 
maining outside, they blockaded the harbor so that the 
trading ships did not dare to, put to sea. The Spanish 
ambassador complained to Queen Elizabeth, who prom- 
ised speedy redress. She granted it by seizing on the 
money and appropriating it to herself as a loan from its 
Italian owners. This high-handed act, committed while 
the two nations were at peace, infuriated Alva. He is- 
sued a proclamation commanding the arrest of every 
Englishman in the Netherlands, and the seizure of all 
English property. Elizabeth retaliated by measures of 
the same character, to which Alva replied by forbidding 
all intercourse with England. Appeals were made to 
Philip in Spain, but it was four years before the con- 
troversy was finally arranged.* 

Meantime, the Flemish manufacturers and merchants, 

* Froude, ix. 371. 


deprived of English wool and excluded from an English 
market, suffered greatly. Hostilities were now brought 
to their very doors. It was no longer a question of 
murdering a few thousand heretics, but one which af- 
fected directly their national prosperity. Upon Eng- 
land the effect was more marked, not only upon trade, 
but in other quarters. Elizabeth had no sympathy with 
the insurgents in the Netherlands, and had committed 
this act of spoliation simply in the spirit of a corsair 
queen, assuming that Spain was too much absorbed to 
make reprisals. She was right in thinking that Philip 
did not wish to add another enemy to his list, but nei- 
ther he nor Alva ever quite forgave the outrage. With 
this event begin the plots for her dethronement and the 
substitution of her cousin, Mary Stuart. Shortly there- 
after occurred the Catholic uprising in the northern 
counties, and the pope's bull of excommunication against 

"While these results were working out across the 
Channel, Alva was not idle. He went on with his 
work as if possessed by the evil genius of Spain. Al- 
though the country was now at peace, no halt was called 
in the process of exterminating heresy. For some 
months, to be sure, a general pardon was promised ; but 
when promulgated with a great parade, in the summer 
of 1570, the exceptions were found to be so numerous 
as to work its virtual cancellation. The fires still blazed 
around the stake, the scaffolds ran with blood, and the 
pits in which the victims were buried while alive mul- 
tiplied on every side. And yet the rich mines to be 
opened by the Spaniards did not yield the promised 
treasure. Alva had been obliged largely to increase his 
army, which now numbered over sixty thousand ; he had 
manned all the old fortresses and built new citadels, 


until the country looked like a camp of Spain. All this 
was necessary to keep the insurgent elements under 
foot, but it took large sums of money, and, although the 
confiscations were numerous enough, the expenses left 
no profits. The promised stream of gold fl.owed in the 
wrong direction for the royal coffers, and the duke had 
enemies at- court whose tongues were never idle. 

Of Alva's military ability there can be no question ; 
he was now to show himself the most incapable of states- 
men and financiers. In Spain, and in his own dukedom, 
there existed a very simple method of taxation. All 
the land paid one per cent, annually on its value, and 
when sold it paid five per cent. This latter tax was 
heavy, but that on the sales of personal property was 
twice as large, being one tenth of the selling price. 
Among an agricultural people, where land was rarely 
sold, and where the only sales of personal property were 
those of the produce of the soil, this system had worked 
without resistance. The brilliant idea now occurred to 
the Spanish general that, applied to the ISTetherlands, it 
would solve his financial problem and enable him to 
realize his promised stream of gold. 

"When this proposition was submitted to»the assem- 
blies of the states, in 1569, it was greeted with an in- 
dignant protest. Such a tax was not only violative of 
all the ancient charters, but it would be ruinous to 
trade. Among a manufacturing community an article 
is sold many times before it reaches the hand of the con- 
sumer. A tax of ten per cent, on every sale would 
amount to a substantial confiscation. These and kin- 
dred arguments were urged upon the duke, but he re- 
mained inflexible. His only answer was that it worked 
well among his people. At length all the representa- 
tives gave way except those from Utrecht. That prov- 


ince was adjudged to have forfeited all its privileges 
and was subjected to an enormous fine. The people, 
however, were so aroused, and so great a pressure was 
brought to bear upon the governor, that in consideration 
of a large sum of ready money he consented, for two 
years, from 1570, to suspend the operation of the law. 
The two years rolled around, long enough for the per- 
secuted Protestants, but far too short for the men of 
business, who foresaw impending ruin. When the time 
was up, Alva announced that there should be no more 

Here, at last, the crisis of the struggle had arrived. 
Religious persecution must of necessity affect compar- 
atively few, unjust taxation touches every member of 
society. Men may differ about articles of faith and 
theories of government, but all alike feel the burden 
when the tax-gatherer appears. Hence, sagacious states- 
men glove the hand which fills the public purse. Of 
this wise policy, Alva, whose hands were cased in mail, 
knew nothing. The great difficulty in bringing about 
an uprising in the Netherlands had arisen from the 
fact that the Protestants for a long time were in a mi- 
nority, and were mostly made up of the poorer classes. 
It was an age, too, when military discipline was all-im- 
portant for conflicts in the field. The fortresses and 
walled towns with which the land was studded were 
mostly garrisoned by Spanish troops, and could be taken 
only by a general concert of action among the citizens. 
This concert of action, which had hitherto been impos- 
sible, the last act of Alva was now to bring about. 

In 1570. the Huguenot war in France had come to an 
end by the ill-fated peace which led to the Massacre of 
St. Bartholomew. William of Orange had again retired 
to Germany. Ever watchful and untiring, he kept up a 


constant communication with the Netherlands. There 
the work was going bravely on. The air was full of 
the electricity which precedes a storm. The discontent 
was universal, for the people foresaw the total destruc- 
tion of their civil as well as their religious liberty. 
When the moment for action came, it developed a poli- 
cy which America, two centuries later, followed in its 
resistance to the Stamp act. Eather than pay the tax 
of Alva, the people, by unanimous consent, suspended 
business. Every form of industry came to a sudden 
stand. Even the brewers refused to sell their beer, the 
bakers to make bread, or the hotel-keepers to furnish ac- 
commodations for their guests. Multitudes of workmen 
out of employment filled the streets ; the Spanish soldiers 
went hungry because they could no longer purchase pro- 
visions. Alva, of course, was in a fury. Armed resist- 
tance he could meet, but how make an entire people re- 
sume their occupations ? At length he hit upon a plan 
in consonance with his whole course of conduct. Of 
yielding he had no thought, but he would make a terri- 
ble example of some of these refractory shopkeepers. 

Early in April, 15Y2, he sent one night for the public 
executioner. To him he gave an order to arrest at once 
eighteen of the leading tradesmen of Brussels, and early 
in the morning hang them each in his own doorway. 
The ropes and extempore scaffolds were prepared, but 
before the morning dawned Alva was awakened to hear 
of something more important than the sale of bread and 
meat. It was the outbreak on the sea-coast which laid 
the foundations of the Dutch Eepublic. 

In the latter days of March, a fleet of twenty-four 
vessels, belonging to the Beggars of the Sea, was lying 
off the southern coast of England. It was commanded 
by Admiral William de la Marck, a descendant of the 


"Wild Boar of Ardennes, whom Scott has immortalized 
in one of his great novels. He was related by blood to 
Egmont, and, according to the old Batavian custom, had 
sworn to let his hair and beard grow until his country 
was free or his kinsman's death had been avenged. A 
savage, lawless, and licentious ru£Ban, he had inflicted 
great damage on the commerce of Spain, and in his 
warfare had not always spared the property of neutrals. 
At this time the controversy between Elizabeth and 
Philip, arising out of the seizure of the Italian money, 
was hastening to an amicable adjustment. Alva com- 
plained bitterly of the countenance given by the people 
of England to the Netherland cruisers, who made that 
country a base of operations. The queen was willing 
to avoid a cause of offence which brought no benefit to 
her. She therefore issued a peremptory order, forbid- 
ding any of her subjects longer to supply them with 
provisions. Thus, driven out of their last port of refuge, 
De la Marck and his companions took to sea and started 
for the coast of Holland. Entering the Meuse, they sud- 
denly appeared before the town of Brill. 

Brill, though well walled and fortified, chanced at that 
moment to be without a Spanish garrison, its troops 
having been just before transferred to Utrecht. The 
Beggars, learning this fact, boldly demanded the sur- 
render of the town. They numbered only three or four 
hundred, at the most, but the fame of their exploits and 
the fear of the inhabitants magnified them into as many 
thousands. Assured of protection for private property, 
the magistrates surrendered without resistance, but, 
having no confidence in the promises of the corsairs, at 
once fled the place, with all the leading citizens. Had 
De la Marck been alone, the outcome would have justi- 
fied their a23prehensions. He had determined to plunder 
I.— 13 


the town and then consign it to the flames. Fortu- 
nately wiser counsels prevailed. One of the ships was 
commanded by William de Blois, Seigneur of Treslong, 
whose father had once been governor of Brill. His 
brother had been executed by Alva, and he himself al- 
most cut to pieces in the disastrous campaign of 1568. 
He had since taken to the sea and become one of the' 
most distinguished of the Beggars. More far-sighted 
than the admiral, he insisted that the town should be 
held for the Prince of Orange. The ferocious De la 
Marck finally consented, but paid off part of his debt to 
the Council of Blood by sacking the churches and hang- 
ing thirteen monks and priests.* 

The news of this exploit reached Alva just as he was 
preparing to try his scheme for opening the shops of 
Brussels. The joy shown on every face revealed the 
gravity of the situation. The executions could wait, but 
here was something that required immediate action. Ten 
companies of veterans were at once sent from Utrecht 
to retake the town. They arrived before its walls, but 
the quick-witted defenders cut the dikes and, rowing 
through the water, set lire to some of the transport-ships. 
Hemmed in between the flood and flame, the Spaniards 
retired and Brill was free. Its inhabitants returned to 
their homes and took an oath of allegiance to William, 
Prince of Orange, as stadtholder for his majesty. N^ot 
yet had the people any idea of renouncing their allegi- 
ance ; but, although they knew it not, the corner-stone of 
the republic was laid, and they had discovered the mode 
of warfare which was to make their liberties secure. 

* Motley, ii. 350-355. Shortly. after this event the bloody and 
intractable De la Marck -was removed from office, deprived of his 
commission, and forced to leave the country. Motley, ii. 435, 475. 


William of Orange was at first disconcerted when he 
heard of the bold enterprise of De la Marck and Tres- 
t long. He was preparing again to invade the Nether- 
lands, but his arrangements were incomplete, and he did 
not believe that the people were ready for a general 
uprising. Under such circumstances, a piratical foray 
on a peaceful town might well work mischief. The 
prudence of Treslong prevented the danger in the latter 
direction, while the march of events was to show how 
easily the wisest man may be mistaken as to public 

For about four years William had been absent from 
the IsTetherlands. Although in constant correspondence 
with his friends at home, he could not realize the changes 
which had been worked since his last unfortunate cam- 
paign. But the men who, since the first arrival of the 
Spaniards, had been hoping against hope, finally had 
learned that Alva was not acting on his own respon- 
sibility. As for the Spanish commander himself, he 
never understood the people over whom he tyrannized. 
In the southern provinces, where his residence was 
fixed, he was surrounded by a mercurial race of Gallic 
descent, turbulent, seditious, loud of speech, and quick 
to anger. These men he considered dangerous, and to 
hold them in subjection he had built vast fortresses and 
filled them with his veterans. In the north, the people 
of Germanic blood were of a very different type. They 
were more quiet of speech and less demonstrative, actors 
rather than talkers ; men who, under a calm demeanor, 
concealed a devotion to principle, a dogged determina- 
tion, and an heroic courage which have never been 
surpassed. They were to prove themselves the Puritans 
of the ^Netherlands, and they deceived the Spanish soldier 
just as their kinsmen in England and America with cor- 


responding qualities have deceived foolish men of the 
world from that day to this. Like all who have ever met 
the Puritans in battle, he changed his mind about their 
character. He began by calling them " men of butter," 
but found that they were men of iron. Before leav- 
ing the country he admitted their unexampled bravery, 
and declared that they were the same men whose por- 
traits Csesar and Tacitus had drawn. "Well he might, 
for Spain was to discover to her sorrow that, like their 
Batavian ancestors, when other nations went to battle, 
they went to war.* 

It was fortunate for the cause of the patriots that in 
the early days of the contest Alva had not understood 
these men. Regarding them as peaceful and phlegmatic, 
easily governed and not likely to be dangerous, he had 
placed few troops among them, and had left their for- 
tresses with rather insuificient guards. He was finally 
to be undeceived. The capture of Brill was but the 
spark applied to a train of gunpowder. The important 
city of Flushing was the first to rise and overpower its 
small Spanish garrison. Soon following in its footsteps 
came nearly all the important cities of Holland, Zeeland, 
and the northern provinces. I^aturally, there were 
bloodshed and disorder, acts of wild vengeance on the 
part of men with human passions who had suffered so 
terribly for many years ; but in the main the revolution 
was a peaceful one.f 

Unlike the outbreak of the iconoclasts, six years be- 
fore, the uprising now was general, and it was marked 
by a feature of peculiar interest. Before this time, as 
we have seen in the last chapter, the suffrage had in 

* Tacitus, " Germania," §§ 29, 30. 

t See Froude, x. 393, etc., for some of its dark features. 


most parts of the country been taken from the people 
at large, and lodged in the hands of a few persons, 
mainly among the wealthy classes. Now, in all the 
redeemed cities, new boards of magistrates were estab- 
lished, and they were elected by a popular vote. The 
republic was thus founded on the will of the people, 
although in time the old system was re-established. 
What kind of a people they were who founded the re- 
public is shown by the oaths which they exacted from 
the magistrates. The new officials swore fidelity to the 
King of Spain, and to the Prince of Orange as his stadt- 
holder ; resistance to Alva, his tenth-paying tax, and the 
Inquisition ; and " to support every man's freedom and 
the welfare of the country, to protect widows, orphans, 
and miserable persons, and to maintain justice and 
truth." * Thus the fiction of an allegiance to Philip was 
still maintained, but the Prince of Orange was every- 
where regarded as the actual ruler of the country. From 
his military post in Germany he directed all movements 
with the zeal of a patriot and the skill of a statesman. 
One measure he always insisted on, and it forms the 
key-note of all his policy. Although the feeling against 
the Catholics was bitter, and it had been intensified by 
a partisan struggle in which the reformers had now be- 
come the victors, he proclaimed and enforced full re- 
ligious toleration, requiring an oath from all officers and 
magistrates that they would " offer no let or hindrance 
to the Eoman churches." 

The year 1572 gave great promise for the cause of 
liberty. The larger part of the northern provinces had 
been freed from the yoke of Spain ; recruits poured in 
for the army, and even volunteers began to come from 

Motley, ii. 367. 


England.* From the South, too, came joyful tidings. 
Louis of Nassau, a younger brother of William of Or- 
ange, was, next to Coligny, the idol of the French Hu- 
guenots. Among them he numbered his friends by 
thousands. An earnest Christian and a Protestant, he 
was also a gallant, dashing soldier, of charming man- 
ners and address, beaming with sunshine, the mirror of 
knightly courtesy. Well was he called the Bayard of 
the Netherlands. He had also influence at court. France 
and Spain were ancient enemies. Henry II., who thir- 
teen years before was plotting with Philip to crush out 
heresy in their respective kingdoms, had shortly there- 
after met a sudden death. His son, Charles IX., was 
now upon the throne. He was a young man, just come 
of age, and was moved to lend secret aid to the insur- 
gents. In May, Louis of jSTassau, with a small force of 
Huguenots, captured, by a brilliant feat of arms, the 
city of Mons. Mons was the capital and principal town 
of Hainault, the southern province of the Netherlands. 
It was surrounded by lofty walls, contained a citadel 
of strength, and, lying near the frontier, could with 
French aid be made of great importance to the patriots. 
Swiftly following this success came the news that a 
Spanish fleet had been taken as it attempted to sail by 

A soldier less brave and less experienced than Alva 
might well have been crushed under the storm which 
thus pelted him from every quarter. For a time even 
he knew not where to turn, but the news from Mons 

* Two hundred Englisli volunteers went to Flushing under Sir 
Humphrey Gilbert and Sir Thomas Morgan. Meteren, book iv. ; 
Davies's " Holland," i. 584. Froude says five hundred at first, and 
more in a second detachment. Froude, x. 379. 


decided his course of action. That city must be retaken, 
and for the purpose he despatched his son, Don Freder- 
ick, with a force of veterans. Meantime, the fact that 
he had made a mistake in his financial policy was forced 
upon him. Eeluctantly moved to the admission, on the 
2-ith of June he summoned the Estates of Holland to 
meet at The Hague on the 15th of the ensuing month, 
promising then to abolish the obnoxious tax. 

The concession came too late. The contest had now 
changed its character. The assembly met, not at The 
Hague and not on his call, but at Dort and on the call 
of the Prince of Orange, who was still in Germany en- 
gaged in raising an army. He needed trained soldiers 
to meet the veterans of Spain, and such soldiers could 
be hired i\i plenty, but they demanded a guarantee of 
pay. This the assembled congress of Holland agreed to 
furnish, giving the obhgations of some of the cities to 
pay the army for three months. The arrangement was 
satisfactory, and on the 27th of August William of Or- 
ange began.- his march at the head of twenty-four thou- 
sand men. He directed his course towards Mons for 
the relief of his brother Louis. That adventurous sol- 
dier was now in dire peril. The little force with which 
he had surprised the city was inadequate to hold it 
against Don Frederick and his besieging army. Some 
Huguenot troops, who had been sent to his relief, were 
foolishly entrapped and utterly destroyed. Still, the 
approaching army gave promise of speedy succor. 

As the Prince of Orange marched along, city after 
city of the South opened its gates and hailed him as a 
savior. Some refused admission, but on the whole the 
patriotic feeling appeared almost as widespread as in 
the northern provinces. The dawn of liberty seemed 
breaking into a noonday blaze. I^othing except a con- 


vulsion of nature could now long postpone the hour of 
deliverance from the tyranny of Spain. Suddenly, as 
if from a cloudless sky, came the bolt which was to 
shatter all these hopes. Through the terror-stricken 
air flew the tidings that the Huguenots had been mas- 
sacred in France. To appreciate what this meant to 
the patriots of the ISTetherlands, we must recall their sit- 

They were fighting the mistress of a third of the 
known globe. They themselves were almost unused to 
arms. Germany had at one time seemed friendly, but 
its emperor was now allied by marriage to Philip, and 
denounced the revolution. Elizabeth of England had 
made her peace with Spain, cared nothing for the cause, 
and, as we shall soon see, could not be counted on for 
aid. To France alone the reformers looked for assist- 
ance. There they could count as friends a large body 
of influential Protestants, headed by Coligny, himself a 
tower of strength. He had acquired a great influence 
over the feeble-minded youthful Charles, who was at 
length persuaded that it was to his interest to curb the 
growing power of Spain. The religious war which had 
been waged for years was at an end. A marriage had 
been arranged between Henry of ISTavarre and the sis- 
ter of the king. Most of the leading ELuguenots assem- 
bled at Paris to witness the ceremony whicli was to 
consolidate a lasting peace between the factions, and 
give France her true position as the arbiter of Europe. 
Her open support, it was well known, would then be 
given to the rebellious Netherlanders. Well might they 
feel assurance of success. 

The Massacre of St. Bartholomew, which wrought de- 
struction to their hopes, was not a premeditated crime. 
It was the result of a sudden impulse on the part of 


Catherine de' Medici, the mother of the king. She was 
jealous of the ascendency which Coligny had acquired 
over the mind of her son, and plotted his destruction. 
But her jealousy had a basis much deeper, and one much 
more creditable to her character than any feeling of 
mere personal pique. 

With all her moral defects, Catherine was a woman 
of ability. She cared nothing for religious questions, 
but did care for what she regarded as the interest of 
France. To her the extreme Catholics and the extreme 
Protestants were equally objectionable, for each threat- 
ened the peace and greatness of the kingdom. The 
time had now come, however, when she thought it wise 
to side with the latter against Philip and the j)apacy. 
But such action was impracticable without the aid of 
some foreign power. She had therefore proposed that 
England should join the Huguenots of Prance, and sus- 
tain the struggling Protestants of the K'etherlands, To 
this coalition Elizabeth was urged by her ministers, and 
Catherine was led to believe that the scheme would be 
carried out. It was in this belief that, setting the pope 
at defiance, she had consented to the marriage of her 
daughter to a Protestant, and to the raising of the army 
which was to march under Coligny to the assistance of 
the Prince of Orange. 

At the last moment came the intelligence that not 
only was Elizabeth playing with the question of a French 
alliance, but that she was secretly plotting with Philip 
and Alva to gain for herself some personal advantage 
from the situation. Thus bereft of her only Protestant 
ally, Catherine naturally sided with the stronger part3^ 
The Huguenots still demanded the war with Spain and 
the papacy; but such a war, in a country where the 
Catholics formed the large majority of the population, 


could bring only ruin to France. Under these circum- 
stances, the conduct of Catherine, although worthy of 
all the execration which it has received, is not one of 
the mysteries of history. Coligny guided the counsels 
of the king, and was urging him on a course which she 
thouo;ht disastrous to the nation. He therefore must be 

First, an assassin shot at the aged admiral, but only 
inflicted a severe wound. At once, his outraged friends 
demanded the detection and punishment of those who 
stood behind the would-be murderer. Catherine and 
her adherents were alarmed at the cry for vengeance, 
and instantly resolved to secure their safety by exter- 
minating the whole brood of heretics. The scheme was 
after a brief delay put in execution, the delay being 
caused by tlie reluctance of the king to kill his old 
friend, and the best man among his subjects. His moth- 
er, however, answered such scruples by portraying the 
danger to herself, the peril to the throne from a general 
uprising of the Huguenots, and finally by taunting him 
with want of courage. When committed to the plot, 
Charles hurried on with feverish haste. As ferocious 
as he was imbecile and cowardly, he demanded that the 
deed should be done at once, and that none of the pro- 
scribed religion should be left in France to reproach him 
for the crime. How rapidly and how thoroughly the 
work was done, the world knows b}^ heart. 

The Catholic powers of Europe hailed the news with 
joy. The pope ordered a Te Deum to be sung in 
honor of the victory over the enemies of Rome. In 
Spain, the saturnine Philip laughed as he had never 
laughed before. England, on the other hand, felt a 

* Froude, x. 383-396. 


thrill of horror. The queen, but for whose duplicity 
there would probably have been no massacre, went into 
mourning with her*whole court, refused for a time to 
see the envoy of France, and, when an audience was 
granted, listened to his explanations in total silence. 
Still, such expressions of cheap sympathy were followed 
by no action. The ISTetherlanders now stood without 
a friend. This stupendous, insensate crime had driven 
their only ally into the arms of Spain. Indeed, it seemed 
that the French ambassador, when congratulating Philip, 
had told the truth in saying that to his royal master's 
work on St. Bartholomew's Day he owed the preserva- 
tion of the JSTetherlands. 

The Prince of Orange was met by the overwhelming 
tidiness while on his march to Mons. He knew at once 
that all was over in the South. The Duke of Alva had 
joined Don Frederick with the flower of his army. They 
were strongly intrenched about the beleaguered city, 
holding a position which could not be taken by assault. 
All attempts to draw them into an engagement were 
unsuccessful, for Alva was too prudent a general to risk 
a victory which a little time would give him without a 
battle. The delay was brief, for the hired mercenaries, 
knowing that France would send no further reinforce- 
ments, and doubtful of their future pay, refused to 
march. Sadly enough the few remaining patriots re- 
traced their steps across the Rhine. The army was dis- 
banded; Mons surrendered; the Belgic cities returned 
to their allegiance, Mechlin being sacked with indescrib- 
able atrocity as an example to future rebels ; and all save 
hope seemed lost. 

The miracle had been wrought which alone appeared 
capable of defeating the cause of the reformers. When 
William of Orange was on his march with an army large 


and well equipped, with France and England as prospec- 
tive allies, with cities opening their gates, and the people 
about him tumultuous with joy, it looked as if the last 
chapter in the history of the contest had been opened, 
and that we might prepare to close the book. In fact, 
the struggle had just begun which was to last for near- 
ly eighty years, to be illuminated with deeds of valor 
such as have never been surpassed, making up a tale of 
Puritan constancy and virtue which will forever serve 
as a beacon light to the oppressed of every age and 

Upon the disbandment of his army the Prince of 
Orange betook his way, almost alone, to Holland. It 
was about the only remaining faithful province, and was 
to prove more faithful than even he had dreamed of. 
Man, he thought, had deserted him ; but while in exile he 
had learned to place his trust in another Power whose 
steadfastness he never subsequently doubted. Writing 
four years before, in a private letter to his wife, he said : 
" I have resolved to place myself in the hands of the 
Almighty, that he ma}^ guide me whither it is His good 
pleasure that I should go. I see well enough that I am 
destined to pass this life in misery and labor, with which 
I am well content since it thus pleases the Omnipotent, 
for I know that I have merited still greater chastisement. 
I only implore him graciously to send me strength to 
endure with patience." * This was the key-note of the 
Puritanism which was to rejuvenate the world. It was 
the confidence in an all-wise overruling Providence that 
led to the triumph of the Dutch Republic, nerved the 
arms of the Ironsides who fought with Cromwell, kept 
up the hopes of Washington, and inspired the heart of a 

* Motley, ii. 246. 


Lincoln and a Grant. To him wlio does not appreciate 
this element history is of little value. 

It is not my intention to describe with any detail the 
long ensuing war with Spain, in which Holland was to 
take the leading part. The important subjects for the 
purposes of this work relate to the institutions of the 
people, their progress in civilization, the national charac- 
ter developed by the struggle, and the mode in which 
their Puritanism came to affect their neighbors across 
the Channel, and, later on, the settlers in America. The 
comprehension of these questions required something of 
an extended review of the causes of the conflict, and this 
must now be supplemented by at least a sketch of its 
subsequent progress, showing how it developed into a 
religious struggle, and then into a war for independence. 
In this sketch the reader will find, as he has found in the 
preceding pages, a re-statement of some incidents which 
other writers have made familiar. But however familiar 
such incidents may be, they take on an interest entirely 
new when we come to realize that here Avas the influence 
which shaped the character of the English Puritans ; this 
conflict serving for them as a perpetual object-lesson, 
showing what they might expect from the assertion of 
absolute power in the State and the re-establishment of 
the Eomish Church. Certain it is that unless one keeps 
this story in mind the subsequent history of England 
and America is inexplicable. 

After the surrender of Mons, Holland was almost de- 
serted by her associate provinces. But although stand- 
ing substantially alone, her people were firmly resolved 
that the Inquisition and the illegal taxation with which 
they had at length done away should never be reinstated. 
Fortunately, her geographical situation gave her some 
important advantages in the coming contest. Within 


her borders were numerous walled towns, each a minia- 
ture republic, with its civic guard and train-bands, which 
Americans would call militia. Most of these towns were 
located on some arm of the sea or navigable river, so that 
their commerce could with difficulty be impeded. Here 
the people lived, carrying on their ordinary vocations as 
fishermen, manufacturers, and merchants ; such places as 
were not captured growing rapidly in wealth and popu- 
lation. As a rule, they were below the level of the water 
and protected from its ravages by extensive dikes, be- 
hind which spread cultivated fields and fertile pastures. 
It was evident that in the open country the insurgents 
could make no stand against the disciplined troops of 
Spain. Even that triumph, however, was to come at a 
later day when they met and defeated them, man to 
man. 'Now, in the early stages of the contest, the sole 
object of either party was to gain possession of the 
walled towns which the other held. 

To illustrate the character of this warfare, and the 
heroism displayed by the patriots, a few incidents, show- 
ing some of its different phases, will serve a better pur- 
pose than pages of description. 

In Holland, at the close of 1572, Amsterdam was the 
only city held by Alva. From this point as a base, he 
set out to conquer the remainder of the province. The 
Prince of Orange was in the southern portion, and his 
lieutenant in the northern district. Between them on a 
narrow strip of land, but five miles wide, lay the city of 
Harlem, large and beautiful, but with a small garrison 
and works of little strength. It was only ten miles from 
Amsterdam, and Alva regarded it as the key to the situ- 
ation. Its capture, he thought, would be an easy matter. 
About its walls Don Frederick encamped, in December, 
with an army of thirty thousand veterans. Preceding 


the siegre occurred one of the events which add a touch 
of picturesqueness to this extraordinary war. 

The weather being cold, a few armed vessels belonging 
to Holland became frozen in the ice. Don Frederick, tak- 
ing advantage of this accident, despatched a small picked 
force to capture them. Suddenly, as the Spaniards went 
slipping and sliding on their way, there appeared before 
them a skating-party fully armed. A lively skirmish 
ensued, in which the men from the South were as help- 
less as were the clumsy galleons of the Invincible Armada 
before the nimble privateers of Drake and Frobisher. 
At its conclusion the Hollanders skated off, leaving sev- 
eral hundred of the enemy dead upon the ice. Such a 
form of warfare was novel to Alva, but he was not to 
be outdone. At once he ordered seven thousand pairs 
of skates, and his soldiers soon became proficient in their 

This little incident gave a gleam of encouragement to 
the burghers of Harlem, but their situation was hopeless 
from the first. Without, was an army of thirty thou- 
sand men, and within, a garrison of only four thousand. 
But although Alva expected to take the place in a Aveek, 
its siege lasted for seven long months. On both sides 
prodigies of valor were performed. Three hundred wom- 
en, led by a widow of a distinguished family, organized 
a corps of Amazons, and fought like trained soldiers in 
the ranks. When assaults were attempted, the besieged 
poured boiling oil and blazing pitch on the heads of the 
assailants. Men, women, and children worked to repair 
the breaches in the wall. In one attack upon the city 
three or four hundred Spaniards were slain, and only 
three or four of the defenders. Finding that assaults 
were useless, the enemy began to mine the walls, and 
were met by countermines. In the darkness, under the 


earth, fierce and bloody conflicts ensued. " These citi- 
zens," Avrote Don Frederick, " do as much as the bravest 
soldiers in the world could do." At one time he de- 
spaired of taking the place, and sent a messenger to his 
father, asking permission to withdraw. " Tell Don Fred- 
erick," said Alva, " that if he be not decided to continue 
the siege till the town be taken, I shall no longer con- 
sider him inj son, whatever my opinion may formerly 
have been. Should he fall in the siege, I will myself 
take the field to maintain it ; and when we have both 
perished, the duchess, my wife, shall come from Spain 
to do the same." 

Meantime the Prince of Orange was using every effort 
to relieve the city, but all was useless against the number 
and discipline of the besiegers. In one of these attempts, 
a single Hollander, John Ilaring, of Horn, planted on a 
narrow dike, with sword and shield kept a thousand 
Spaniards at bay until his comrades had effected a re- 
treat. Then, like Horatius of old, he plunged into the 
water and made his own escape. 

Thus the winter and spring rolled on. In March, a 
thousand of the garrison made a sally from the walls, 
and, with a loss of but four of their party, killed eight 
hundred of the enemy, burned three hundred tents, and 
captured seven cannons, nine standards, and many wagon- 
loads of provisions. Such feats as this led Alva to 
write to Philip that " it was a war such as never before 
was seen or heard of in any land on earth," and that 
'' never was a place defended with such skill and bravery 
as Harlem, either by rebels or by men fighting for their 
lawful prince."'" Still there was one enemy against 
whom skill and bravery are powerless. By June, gaunt 

* Motley, ii. 444. 


famine appeared within the gates. Even be was baffled 
long. Wben tbe ordinary food bad been consumed, tbe 
people lived on linseed and rapeseed from wbicb tbey bad 
been making oil; tben on dogs, cats, rats, and mice ; next 
tbey boiled tbe bides of oxen and borses, tben devoured 
tbeir boots and shoes, and finally tore up the nettles from 
the graveyards and the grass from between the stones. 

By tbe middle of July famine bad conquered. Every 
vestige of food was gone, and tbe heroic defenders of 
the doomed city resolved to die together. Forming all 
the women, cliildren, sick, and aged, into a square, and 
surrounding them with the able-bodied men, they were 
determined to fight tbeir way out, and dearly sell tbeir 
lives. Learning of this resolve, and knowing that it 
would be put in execution, Don Frederick offered hand- 
some terras for an immediate surrender. A letter was 
sent, by bis order, promising ample forgiveness to tbe 
town, and that no one should be punished except such 
as tbe citizens themselves thought worthy of it. I^o in- 
tention existed of observing these conditions, but tbe 
people, for tbe last time, put tbeir trust in Spanish hon- 
or. They were to learn that it was a cardinal principle 
of Philip and bis adherents to keep no faith with here- 
tics. The garrison bad been reduced during the siege 
to eighteen hundred men, of whom six hundred were 
Germans. These were spared, and sent home on pa- 
role. Tbe rest, some of whom were English volunteers, 
with eleven hundred of tbe citizens, were butchered in 
cold blood on tbe day after tbe surrender. Five execu- 
tioners were detailed for tbe bloody work ; when they 
gave out, the victims were bound back to back and hurled 
into tbe lake.* This restricted slaughter Avas regarded 

* Motley, ii. 454. 
I— 14 


by Alva as proving the natural humanity of his gentle 
disposition. It was, in fact, mildness itself as compared 
with the fell work wrought by his commands in other 
places. When Zutphen was taken by assault and N^aar- 
den by capitulation, every woman was violated, and then 
almost every human being murdered, the towns being 
left a waste. 

Such was the nature of the life-and-death struggle 
upon which the Hollanders had entered. With the sur- 
render of Harlem, their fortunes seemed to have reached 
a very low ebb, but they never for an instant thought 
of wavering. Alva long before had offered to abandon 
his odious tax. He now proclaimed a general pardon 
for the past if the insurgents would return to their alle- 
giance. All his overtures were met with silence. In fact, 
the outlook, if dark for Holland, was not promising for 
Spain. Twelve thousand of her bravest soldiers lay buried 
before the walls of Harlem. Seven months had been con- 
sumed in taking a single city, and that one of the weak- 
est in the province. Such a people could not be con- 
quered, and to exterminate them at this rate would make 
Spain a desolation. The only question was whether, in 
such a mode of warfare, the besieged or the besiegers 
would first lose heart. This was speedily determined. 

In August, 1573, Don Frederick, with sixteen thousand 
men, set out to take the town of Alkmaar, in the north 
of Holland. The place was a small one, containing only 
eight hundred soldiers and thirteen hundred able-bodied 
burghers. This, again, was to be an easy capture, and 
Alva proclaimed that as clemency in the case of Har- 
lem had proved a failure, he now would not leave a hu- 
man being alive. An investment was begun, so perfect 
that it was declared not even a sparrow could enter or 
leave the city. In September, all preparations being 


completed and the works having been sufficiently bom- 
barded, a general assault was ordered. Certainly these 
sixteen thousand trained veterans could overwhelm this 
puny garrison. Again, as in Harlem, the men, women, 
and children fought with stones, boiling oil, burning 
pitch, and molten lead. Hoops dipped in tar and set 
on fire were thrown around the necks of the assailants, 
while those who mounted the breaches were met with 
sword and dagger. A Spanish officer, who was hurled 
from the battlements, reported that he had seen " nei- 
ther helmet nor cuirass" as he looked down into the city, 
" only some plain-looking people, generally dressed like 
fishermen." When the recall was sounded, a thousand 
veterans lay dead in the trenches, while the " fishermen " 
had lost but thirty-seven.* 

The next day Don Frederick ordered the assault to be 
renewed, but the end had come. His invincible legions 
refused to move ; men they Avould fight, but not these 
devils. Entreaties were tried, and several of the sol- 
diers were run through the bodies by their officers ; but 
all in vain. They would not brave again the old Bata- 
vian spirit before which Eome itself had quailed. The 
siege dragged on for another month, during which time 
the people of the surrounding country had resolved to 
cut the dikes and overflow the district. The sacrifice 
was enormous, for it involved the destruction of a vast 
amount of property; but the point had been reached 
where a drowned land was regarded as a lesser evil than 
the Spanish rule. The work was accordingly begun, 
but as the water rose Don Frederick, too, abandoned 
heart and hastily retreated. Alkmaar, like Brill, had 
been saved by fire and flood. 

* Motley, ii. 468, 


Alva had now been six years in the country pursuing 
his poUcy of repression. He had boasted that he would 
crush out heresy and rebellion, and make the war pay 
its own expenses with a handsome profit. At the close 
of the six years the Prince of Orange had become a Cal- 
vinist, and almost all the people of Holland and Zeeland 
professing Protestants ; the rebellion had grown into a 
war, and Alva's treasury was bankrupt. For months 
the baffled and disappointed governor-general had peti- 
tioned for his recall. Even he could not stand the uni- 
versal execrations of a nation. Finally, in December, 
15Y3, his prayer was granted and he left for home, 
boasting, as it was said, that, exclusive of those who fell 
in battle, siege, and massacre, he had executed eighteen 
thousand six hundred heretics and traitors. His part- 
ing advice to Philip was, that every city in the ISTether- 
lands should be burned to the ground, except a few which 
could be occupied permanently by the royal troops.* 

Alva was succeeded by Don Louis de Kequesens, Grand 
Commander of Castile, and late Governor of Milan. As 
he had a reputation for sagacity and moderation, his ad- 
vent was looked upon as an omen of better things. All 
parties wished for peace, particularly the inhabitants of 
the Catholic subject provinces, who saw their prosperity 
rapidly passing away. Pequesens professed a desire for 
a pacific policy, but he was only a puppet in the hands 
of his royal master, who demanded absolute subjection 
to the Church of Pome. As this was now the only point 
in controversy, all overtures were useless. Fortunately 

* That Alva had not lost his martial skill was shown seven years 
after his return to Spain. He then commanded an army which con- 
quered the whole of Portugal in fifty-four days, less than one third 
of the time consumed in takiucr Harlem. 


for the patriots, the finances of the Spaniards were in a 
bad condition. Taxation was at an end, for even the 
states not in insurrection made but small contributions 
to the expenses of the war. The army consisted of over 
sixty thousand men, all to be supported from Spain, and 
Philip had large enterprises in other quarters which al- 
ways kept him poor. With a bankrupt treasury, and 
his soldiers in frequent mutiny for their pay, now three 
years overdue, Kequesens found his position a bed of 

Still the war continued. On the sea the patriots were 
almost uniformly victorious. There they were at home. 
In February, 1574, they showed that they had turned 
the tables on land, by taking Middelburg after a brill- 
iant siege. This gave them the key to the commerce 
of the Scheldt and the command of Zeeland. In the 
summer of the same year occurred one of the most im- 
portant events of the war. It was only the attempt to 
take a city, but that attempt led to the foundation of 
the famous University of Leyden, which was to serve 
so largely during the next few years in making Holland 
the learned country of the world. 

The city of Leyden was situated in Middle Holland, 
a short distance south of Harlem. It was fifteen miles 
from the river Meuse, on a broad and beautiful plain 
which was intersected by a number of the branches 
into which the Ehine was divided, as in its weakness it 
crawled towards the sea. "Within the town were broad 
streets, spacious squares, imposing churches and public 
edifices, with some one hundred and forty-five bridges, 
mostly of hammered stone, spanning the canals which 
interlaced the city. In the centre, on an artificial emi- 
nence, rose an antique tower, probably of Eoman origin, 
but popularly ascribed to the Anglo-Saxon Hengist, 


who was said to have built it to commemorate his con- 
quest of Britain. 

When, in October, 1573, the Spanish forces retired 
from Alkmaar, they sat down before Leyden and began 
its siege. In March, they were called away to resist 
Louis of Nassau, who had finally raised another army, 
and again invaded the ISTetherlands from the East. An 
engagement ensued in April, which was followed by the 
usual result ; the patriots being utterly cut to pieces. 
Among the dead were Louis and his younger brother. 
William of Orange had now lost three of his four 
brothers, and though John remained, a gallant, faithful 
soldier and a zealous Calvinist, no one could take the 
place in diplomacy and war of the Bayard of the Neth- 
erlands. William stood thenceforth almost alone among 
the nobles. 

In May, 1574, the Spaniards returned to Leyden, and 
opened the siege anew. They numbered some eight 
thousand at first, and received daily reinforcements. 
Within the city were no soldiers at all, except a small 
corps of freebooters and five companies of the burgher 
guard. Yet the besiegers made no attempt to carry 
the place by storm. Alkmaar had taught them a les- 
son which they did not soon forget. They now relied 
solely on famine, which had gained them Harlem, and 
here the chances seemed greatly in their favor. The 
town was known to be insulficiently provisioned, while 
the besieging force was so great that there was no 
chance of relieving it from without by any ordinary 
means. As for flooding the country, though it was all 
below the water-level, that seemed impossible. The 
main dikes were fifteen miles away, and between them 
and the city were a number of subordinate ones, each 
sufficient to keep out the watery foe. The latter were 


guarded from attack by no less than sixty-two forts and 
redoubts which, held by the Spaniards, seemed to make 
them safe. Despite all this, the Prince of Orange sent 
word to the inhabitants that if they would hold out for 
three months he would find means for their deliverance, 
and they believed him. 

In June, Kequesens, by order of the king, issued a 
proclamation of general amnesty, over which he had 
been pondering long. It promised full forgiveness for 
the past to every one, except a few individuals specified 
by name, on the sole condition that they would return 
to the bosom of Mother Church. But two persons in 
the whole country took advantage of this act of grace 
— one a brewer in Utrecht, the other a son of a ref- 
ugee peddler from Leyden. This should answer the 
question as to the character of the war. The taxation 
of Alva was but the spark by which the flame was kin- 
dled. It was devotion to religious liberty that supplied 
the fuel. 

In July, the Prince of Orange began to cut the outer 
dikes, believing that the flood of water then admitted 
would prove sufficient to drive out the Spaniards. Here, 
however, his calculations were at fault. The water en- 
tered, but the inner barriers stood firm. Then he organ- 
ized a flotilla, which, manned by the wild Beggars of 
the Sea, followed the advancing waves and attacked 
the remaining dikes one by one. This was a work of 
time and difficulty, for the Spaniards were in overwhelm- 
ing numbers and made a stout resistance. Still, little 
by little an advance was made.* 

* It is a curious fact that in this flotilla there was a vessel de- 
signed by the inventive Hollanders which was the forerunner of our 
modern iron-clads. It was a floating structure of great size, called 


Meantime, as the slow work Avent on, the unhappy 
inhabitants of the city were reduced to dreadful straits. 
The three months which were to bring relief had 
stretched to four. For two, they said, they had lived 
on food, but during the other two without it. Every 
green thing within the walls was consumed ; infants 
starved to death on the bosoms of their famished moth- 
ers ; the watchmen, as they went about the streets, found 
many a house untenanted, except by withered corpses. 

Finally came the plague to add its horrors to star- 
vation, and six or eight thousand victims fell before its 
breath. Day by day the heroic survivors clambered up 
the Tower of Hengist to watch and pray. For weeks 
the wind had been blowing from the east, and unless 
it changed relief was hopeless. ]N"othing but a strong 
gale from the ocean, even after all the dikes were cut, 
would heap up the waters so as to flood the country. 
Still, although a full pardon was freely offered them, 
there was little thought of surrender. To the taunts of 
the foe without, this response was made : " Ye call us 
rat-eaters and dog-eaters, and it is true. So long, then 
as ye hear dog bark or cat mew within the walls, ye 
may know that the city holds out. And when all has 
perished but ourselves, be sure that we will devour our 
left arms, retaining our right to defend our women, our 
liberty, and our religion, against the foreign tyrant. 
Should God in his wrath doom us to destruction, and 
deny us all relief, even then will we maintain ourselves 
forever against your entrance. When the last hour has 
come, with our own hands we will set fire to the city, 
and perish, men, women, and children, together in the 

the " Ark of Delft," covered with shot-proof bulwarks, and pro- 
pelled by paddle-wheels moved by a crank. Motley, ii. 567. 


flames rather than suffer our homes to be polluted and 
our liberties to be crushed,"* What could Spain do 
against such a people ? 

At length deliverance came. On the 1st of October 
the wind shifted to the west ; on the 3d, the Spaniards 
had fled before the flood, the fleet was at the walls, and 
Lej^den was relieved. 

The first act of this half-starved people tells much of 
the story of their lives. Forming at once in solemn 
procession, they marched to the church, and on bended 
knee gave thanks to the Almighty God, whose wisdom 
they had never doubted. When, however, they at- 
tempted to close the service with a hymn, the strain 
upon them was too great; as the grand chorus swelled, 
the multitude wept like children. These were the men 
who, thirty-five years later, gave a home to the Pilgrim 
Fathers. What lessons of fortitude and devotion the 
English exiles must have learned as they walked about 
a city sacred to the cause of religion, liberty, and learn- 

The next act of this God-fearing community tells the 
rest of their story. To commemorate the siege, and as 
a reward for the heroism of the citizens, the Prince of 
Orange, with the consent of the Estates of the province, 
founded the University of Leyden. Still, the figment 
of allegiance remained; the people were only fighting 
for their constitutional rights, and so were doing their 
duty to the sovereign. Hence the charter of the uni- 
versity ran in the name of Philip, who was credited 
with its foundation, as a reward to his subjects for their 
rebellion against his evil counsellors and servants, " es- 
pecially in consideration of the differences in religion, 

* Motley, ii. 571. 


and the great burdens and hardships borne by the citi- 
zens of our city of Leyden during the war with such 
faithfuhiess." Motley calls this " ponderous irony," but 
the Hollanders were able lawyers and intended to buiid 
on a legal basis. 

This event marks an epoch in the intellectual history 
of Holland and of the world. We have already seen 
something of her classical schools, which contributed so 
much to the growth of the Reformation, and of the 
general education which reached down even to the peas- 
antry. Still, she had no prominent institutions for a 
higher culture. Before the war they were not neces- 
sary, for the University of Louvain, in Brabant, was 
very near, while the sons of the wealthy who desired 
better advantages could find them in Paris or Italy. 
E"ow all that was changed. "When Alva arrived in the 
IsTetherlands, the oldest son of the Prince of Orange 
was a student at Louvain. No one thought that the 
Spaniards would make war upon children, any more 
than upon women, but this was a mistake. The boy 
was carried to Spain and kept a prisoner for twenty 
years. The Hollanders now resolved that such a mis- 
fortune should not occur again, but that their young 
men should have the opportunity for the highest edu- 
cation within the guarded precincts of their own walled 

The new university was opened in 1575, and from the 
outset took the highest rank. Speaking, a few years ago, 
of its famous senate chamber, Niebuhr called it "the 
most memorable room of Europe in the history of learn- 
ing." The first curator was John Yan der Does, who 
had been military commandant of the city during the 
siege. He was of a distinguished family, but was still 
more distinguished for his learning, his poetical genius, 


and his valor.* Endowed with ample funds, the uni- 
versity largely owed its marked pre-eminence to the in- 
telligent foresight and wise munificence of its curators. 
They sought out and obtained the most distinguished 
scholars of all nations, and to this end spared neither 
pains nor expense. Diplomatic negotiation and even 
princely mediation were often called in for the acquisi- 
tion of a professor. Hence it was said that it surpassed 
all the universities of Europe in the number of its schol- 
ars of renown. 

These scholars were treated with princely honors. 
When Scaliger came from France, in 1593, he was con- 
veyed in a ship-of-war sent for the special purpose. His 
successor, Salmasius, also a Frenchman, upon visiting his 
native land, went in a frigate, escorted by the whole 
Dutch fleet to Dieppe. When he visited Sweden and 
Denmark, royal escorts accompanied him from the bor- 
ders of one country to another.f The "mechanicals" of 

* Davies's " Holland," li. 15 ; Motley, ii. 553. 

t See article on " Leiden University," by Prof. "W. T. Hewett, of 
Cornell University, in nmyefs Magazine for March, 1881, to which I 
am much indebted. Prof. Hewett, himself a student at this famous 
university, in common with every intelligent observer who has lived 
in Holland, was much struck with the similarity between the Dutch 
and the American modes of thought. He says: "The Dutch mind 
is more like the American in its method of thought than is that of 
any other nation of the Continent. There is the same intensity of 
feeling on all religious questions, the same keen, practical genius 
An invisible line separates Holland from Germany. The purpose of 
the Hollander is direct. The Hollander understands America and 
republican institutions, and their true foundations in the intelligence 
and self-control of the people. I always felt sure of being under- 
stood when speaking with an educated Hollander, whether discuss- 
ing Church and State or our current political questions. He could 
rightlv estimate the real and unreal dangers which attend demo- 


Holland, as Elizabeth called them, may not have paid the 
accustomed worship to rank, but to genius and learning 
they were always wilhng to do homage. 

Space would fail for even a brief account of the great 
men, foreign and native, who illuminated Leyden with 
their presence. I have spoken of the younger Scaliger, 
the professor of belles-lettres, whom Hallam calls " the 
most extraordinary master of general erudition that ever 
lived," and of whom Niebuhr says : " Scaliger stood on 
the topmost point of linguistic learning, and so high in 
science of all kinds that he was able of himself to ac- 
quire, use, and judge all therein." Of his successor Sal- 
masius it was said "that what he did not know was 
beyond the bounds of human knowledge." "^ Hugo 
Grotius, when a boy of eleven, came to study at Leyden. 
At seventeen, Henry lY. of France presented him to his 
sister at Yersailles, with the words, " Behold the miracle 
of Holland." Later on, Grotius became famous as a 
jurist, diplomatist, theologian, philologist, and historian, 
while in international law he stands not only as the 
founder, but as still the acknowledged head.f 

In a shaded retreat near the city, later on, dwelt Des- 

cratic governments, as our English cousins are not always iu the 
habit of doing." 

* These expressions seem extravagant, but the acquisitions oi the 
scholars of that clay were as phenomenal as the achievements of men 
like Michael Angelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and others, who were sculp- 
tors, painters, architects, engineers, poets, and musicians, all at the 
same time, and pre-eminent in each department. The range of 
knowledge was, of course, much narrower than at present, and per- 
haps bodies and brains were more robust. 

t " It is acknowledged by every one that the publication of this 
treatise — on the Law of War and Peace — made an epoch in the j)hil- 
osophical, and almost we might say in the political, history of Eu- 
rope." — Hallam's "Literature of Europe," iii. 223. 


cartes, the " founder of the modern mechanical philoso- 
phy," who was discovered by the Hollanders ;* and sub- 
sequently Spinoza, a Jew of Amsterdam, the most per- 
fect character and the greatest philosopher, as many 
think, of modern times. The famous Justus Lipsius filled 
the chair of history in the university. John Drusius, for 
whom Oxford and Cambridge contended as an Oriental- 
ist, Avas for years in its faculty ; Gomar and Arminius, 
names familiar to every theologian, taught theology ; 
the celebrated geographer Cluverius, who spoke ten lan- 
guages, and whose geography went through twenty-six 
editions, was one of the professors ; among others was 
Peter Paaw, who founded the botanical garden of Ley- 
den, and whose treatises on physics, anatomy, and botany 
still maintain their place in the best libraries.f When it 
was finally determined that France was to become Cath- 
olic, the seat of learning was transferred from Paris to 
Leyden. Then began the first scientific study of Greek, 
under Hemsterhuys. Under Boerhaave, Albinus, and 
Sylvius, its medical school became the most famous in 
Europe. :]: 

These were among the men whose influence made Hol- 
land through the seventeenth century the peculiarly 
learned, as it was pre-eminently the literary, country of 

*Whe'well. Descartes was also "the genuine author of the me- 
cbauical theory of the rainbow." — Idem. 

t "Three Centuries of Congregationalism," Dexter, p. 384. 

I Boerhaave was perhaps the most celebrated physician that ever 
lived, if we except Hippocrates. Thompson's " History of Chemis- 
try," i. 209. He was great as a botanist and chemist as well as a physi- 
cian. The Czar Peter once waited two hours for an interview with 
him. A Chinese mandarin addressed a letter "To the illustrious 
Boerhaave, physician in Europe," which duly reached its destina- 


Europe at the beginning of the century and for many 
years afterwards."'^ In 1586, a century before the ap- 
pearance of IS'ewton's " Principia," Stevinus, engineer to 
Prince Maurice, and inspector of the dikes of Holland, 
published his " Principles of Equilibrium," which founded 
the science of statics, f He also introduced the use of 
decimal fractions, and predicted the adoption of a deci- 
mal coinage, weights, and measures. :{: In 1609, Holland 
gave to the world the telescope, which made a new 
science of astronomy. § 

By the invention of the microscope, which was also 
made in Holland prior to 1620, || the science of the infi- 
nitely large was supplemented by that of the infinitely 
small. In 1630, Cornelius Drebbel, a Hollander, who 
exhibited the first microscope in England, invented the 
thermometer, by which for the first time variations of 
temperature were accurately measured. Leeuwenhoeck, 
to whom modern authorities give the honor of inventing 

* See Hallam's " Literature of Europe," iii. 279 ; iv. 59. 

t " The formation of the science of statics was finished ; the math- 
ematical development and exposition of it were alone open to exten- 
sion and change." " By the discoveries of Stevinus all problems of 
equilibrium were substantially solved." — Whewell, " History of the 
Inductive Sciences," i. 351 ; ii. 15, 16, 40, 68. 

I " Encyclopaedia Britannica," article " Stevinus." 

§ " The real inventor of the telescope is not certainly known. 
Metius of Alkmaar long enjoyed the honor, but the best claim seems 
to be that of Zachary Jens or Jansens, a dealer in spectacles at Mid- 
delburg. The date of the invention, or at least of its publicity, is 
referred beyond dispute to 1609. The news spread rapidly througli 
Europe, reaching Galileo, who, in the same year, constructed by his 
own sagacity the iustrument which he exhibited at Venice." — Hal- 
lam, iv. 27. Motley says that Jansens invented both the telescope 
and microscope in 1590. " United Netherlands," iv. 570. 

I Hallam, iv. 27. 


the microscope, which Drebbel exhibited,* was the first 
of biologists to discover the capillary circulation of the 
blood. Snellius, mathematical professor at Leyden, in- 
troduced the true method of measuring the degrees of 
latitude and longitude.f In 1656, Christian Huyghens, 
also of Holland, invented the pendulum clock. " This," 
says Whewell, " was the beginning of anything which 
we can call accuracy in time." He also first applied the 
micrometer to the telescope, and was the author of the 
undulatory theory of light, which Newton opposed.:]: 
With these instruments, invented by the Hollanders, 
almost the whole field of science was opened up to the 

But it was not alone in scholarship and in scientific 
research that the University of Leyden gave an impetus 
to modern thought. Theological disputes Avere devel- 
oped there at times, httle tempests which threatened 
destruction to the institution, but they were of short 

* See " Eucyclop£edia Britannica," article " Microscope." 

t Motley's " United Netherlands," iv. 571. 

X Whewell, ii. 267, 269, 392. 

§ In 1630, Varenius, a physician of Amsterdam, who had studied 
at Leyden, gave to the world his great work on physical geography. 
Sir Isaac Newton used it as a text-book, caused it to be translated 
into English, and it retained its place as the leading authority for a 
century and a half. It is interesting to notice that Varenius advo- 
cated the construction of a canal across the Isthmus of Suez, hold- 
ino", two centuries before De Lesseps, that there was no inequality of 
level between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean which would 
render it impracticable. See " Annual Address before the American 
Geographical Society," by Charles P. Daly, Jan. 14th, 1890, pp. 44-52. 
Leyden was almost the only place upon the Continent where New- 
ton's great discovery was accepted and taught, until it was popular- 
ized by Voltaire in 1728. Lecky's " England in the Eighteenth Cen- 
tury," i. 65. 


duration. The right of conscience was always respected, 
and in the main the right of full and pubKc discussion. 
According to Hallam,* it was from. Leyden, perliaps a 
little from Racow, tliat the " immortal Chilling worth " 
and the "ever -memorable John Hales" borrowed "a 
tone of thinking upon some doctrinal points as yet 
nearly unknown, and therefore highly obnoxious in Eng- 
land." The tolerance of Leyden, however, like its learn- 
ing and science, took root in England very slowly, for 
these two remarkable lights of the Church, " who dwelt 
apart like stars," did not appear upon the horizon until 
the reign of Charles I. ; but the liberality and tolerance 
which they proclaimed have in tlie end borne abundant 
fruit.f When it was settled that dissenters could not 
be educated in the English universities, they flocked to 
Leyden in great numbers, making that city, next to 
Edinburgh, their chief resort.:]: 

Eleven years after the opening of the University of 
Leyden, the Estates of democratic Friesland, amid the 
din of war, founded the University of Franeker, an in- 
stitution which, considering the poverty and isolation 
of Friesland, was as remarkable in its establishment as 

* " Const, ffist.," ii. 79. 

t Chillingworth advocated " the iudependency of private opinion." 
"This endeavor to mitigate the dread of forming mistaken judg- 
ments in religion runs through the whole work of Chillingworth, 
and marks him as the founder, in this country, of what has been 
called the latitudina^ian school of theology." — Hallam, ii. 78. Hales 
was "even more hardy than his friend," p. 79. 

I In the eighteenth century nearly two thousand British students 
were educated at Leyden. Steven, " Hist, of the Scottish Church at 
Rotterdam," p. 266. Among these students was the famous John 
Wilkes, who, with all his excesses, contributed so much to the cause 
of English liberty. Lecky's "England in the Eighteenth Century," 
iii. 78. 


its predecessor in the wealthier state of Holland. As 
at Leyden, the instruction was substantially free, for 
the professors were paid handsome salaries from an en- 
dowment by the State. In addition, provision was made 
for boarding the poorer scholars, so that they could ob- 
tain a full collegiate education at an annual expense of 
from fifteen to twenty-five dollars. The pupils were 
instructed in theology, jurisprudence, medicine, philoso- 
phy, rhetoric, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. - 

Both of these universities were perpetually endowed 
with the proceeds of the ecclesiastical property which 
had been confiscated during the progress of the Avar. 
In the Netherlands, as in other parts of Europe, the 
Church of Rome held vast estates, amounting, as it has 
been estimated, to one fifth of the entire property of 
the country. "What was done with this property in 
England is known to every reader. When Henry VIII. 
carried out his reformation, the monasteries and con- 
vents being suppressed, their confiscated estates became 
part of the royal demesnes, or w^ere handed over to 
greedy courtiers. The Hollanders believed in no such 
system of spoliation as this. When th-ey established 
their reformation, they, too, stripped the Church of its 
superabundant and ill-used wealth. But the ecclesias- 
tical property went neither into private coffers nor even 
into the general treasury for secular purposes. How- 
ever misappropriated by Eome, it had been originally 
intended for pious uses, and to such it was returned. A 
portion was set aside for purposes of education ; the rest 
went to the support of the clergy, and to endow the 
charitable institutions for which Holland always had 
been, and was to become still more, famous. 

Davies, ii. 203 ; Motley's " United Netherlands," ii. 8, 9. 
I.— 15 


Guicciardini, writing in the middle of the sixteenth 
century, tells how, even at that time, these people led 
the world in caring for the decrepit and unfortunate. 
Hospitals provided with every convenience were always 
open to the sick and aged. Besides these were estab- 
lishments, like our modern retreats, in which old per- 
sons, by the payment of a certain sum, secured homes 
for themselves during the remainder of their lives. In 
each town persons of wealth and respectability were bi- 
ennially appointed to receive alms in the churches and 
principal places of resort, and to administer such funds 
in their discretion, to which were added the proceeds of 
a small tax and the bequests of the charitable. Under 
their direction the poor were so well cared for that they 
were under no necessity to beg, which, in fact, they were 
not allowed to do except during stated hours on saints' 
days or holidays. The children of such as were unable 
to support them were brought up until a certain age at 
the expense of the State, and then bound out as appren- 
tices to some trade or manufacture. In times of scarcity, 
the authorities of the town distributed food among the 
needy, whether native or foreign born. The people were 
so honest, industrious, and frugal that, except on such 
occasions, there were few requiring alms save the sick, 
maimed, and aged.* 

As the long and bloody war with Spain went on, it 
left behind it a vast number of widows and orphans, 
besides the disabled soldiers and sailors, who form the 
saddest mementos of such a struggle. These the re- 
public never forgot or neglected. With the proceeds 
of the confiscated property of the Church, that Church 

* Guicciardini, " Belg. Des.," i. 179 ; Davies's " Holland," i. 489 ; 
Sir William Temple, i. 121-160, 191. 


which had now become the pubHc enemy, were founded, 
in every town, asylums and hospitals which cared for 
such unfortunates. In these institutions, admirably or- 
ganized, equipped with every comfort, and administered 
with wisdom and economy, the orphans were educated, 
and the widows and battered veterans of the war spent 
their declining years in ease.* When Louis XIY. and 
Charles II. formed their unholy league for the conquest 
of the Dutch Republic, one monarch writes to the other, 
" Have no fear for Amsterdam ; I have the firm hope 
that Providence will save her, if it were only in consid- 
eration of her charity towards the poor." We now can 
understand what the people of the cities which revolted 
from Spain had in view when they took an oath from 
their new magistrates " to protect widows, orphans, and 
miserable persons." f 

When we consider that at this time England was over- 
run with hordes of sturdy beggars, and that her soldiers 
and sailors were allowed to die neglected in the streets, 
one need hardly ask from which country America and 
the world at large have derived their ideas upon these 
subjects. We view with just pride our soldiers' homes, 
our. orphan asylums, and hospitals for the sick and 
wounded, but should not forget that in all this noble 
work republican Holland set us an example three centu- 
ries ago. 

* See the reports of the Italians, Contarini and Douato, cited in 
Motley's " United Netherlands," iv. 558. 
t See p. 197o 





Foe some two years after the unsuccessful siege of 
Leyden, but little of importance occurred in the field, 
where the war was dragging its slow length along. 
^Negotiations were constantly going on for peace ; but as 
one party demanded full religious liberty, and the other 
the absolute domination of the Church of Rome, no 
basis of agreement could be reached. 

Still, though the insurgent provinces would not yield, 
their position was very perilous. Holland was cut in 
two by the capture of Harlem, and Amsterdam still 
held out for Spain. France, Germany, and England re- 
fused all aid, and the patriots saw nothing before them 
but the prospect of slow extermination. If need be, 
they said, they could " die in the last ditch ;" but no 
men long for such a fate. At length, the Prince of 
Orange, seeing no other resource, and being threatened 
with war by Elizabeth and Protestant England, had 
made up his mind to an heroic step for the salvation of 
his people, although it involved the loss of their native 
land. The country, which their fathers had rescued 
from the waves, Avas to be given up ; the accumulated 
wealth of centuries abandoned ; and the nation, with its 


religion and its liberty, was to seek a new home beyond 
the sea. 

At this juncture Requesens met with a sudden death, 
leaving the arm}?- without a leader and the government 
without a head. 

The death of Requesens was followed by results which 
changed the fate of Holland. For years the Spanish 
troops had been unpaid. They now rose in mutiny and 
wreaked their long-pent fury upon the peaceful cities of 
the lower ]N"etherlands. In November, 15T6, Antwerp, 
the commercial capital of the world, was sacked, as if it 
had been taken by assault. Eight thousand of its inhab- 
itants were murdered, five hundred palaces were left in 
ruins, and twelve millions of property destroyed or car- 
ried off. In this massacre — called the " Spanish Fury " 
— no distinction was made on the score of religion; 
Catholic and Protestant, layman and prelate, being alike 
murdered and plundered by the Spanish soldiery who 
had come into the land to put down heresy. The de- 
struction of Antwerp, and the slaughter of some twelve 
thousand peaceful citizens in other towns, brought about 
Avhat was called the Pacification of Ghent, a consolida- 
tion of all the provinces to effect the expulsion of the 
foreign troops, and the restoration of the ancient privi- 
leges of the people. The union was only temporary, for 
the inhabitants of the southern states, most of whom 
were Catholics, soon returned to their old allegiance; 
but the interval gave the patriots of the ISTorth a much- 
needed breathing-spell. How they improved it we shall 
shortly see. 

Late in 1576, Don John of Austria, half-brother of 
the King of Spain, the hero of Lepanto, a man whose 
life had been one romance, and who now at the age of 
thirty-one was accounted the foremost soldier of the 


world, came to the JN^etherlands as successor to Eeque- 
sens. He found a people inflexibly bent on the removal 
of the Spanish troops. Before this demand he at last 
reluctantly gave way, and to the number of ten thou- 
sand they took up their march for Italy. The joy expe- 
rienced by the people at this triumph was, however, 
destined to a short life. It soon became apparent that 
the ideas of the new governor-general were no more lib- 
eral than were those of his hated predecessors. At the 
end of the first year of his rule the whole country again 
rose in revolt, the Estates-General declared Don John 
a public enemy, and a new act of union was signed 
between the provinces, by which, providing for the 
common defence, they also guaranteed mutual religious 
toleration. This was the last attempt to bind all the 
states together. It failed in the end, largely through 
the jealousy of the Catholic nobles, who disliked and 
feared "Father William," the idol of the people. An 
army of some twenty thousand men, among whom were 
thirteen companies of Scotch and English volunteers, 
met in the field an equal force under Don John, and 
was almost utterly annihilated, as usual, with a Spanish 
loss of only ten or eleven. 

Meeting such a crushing defeat at the outset, the 
future would have looked very dark for the new Con- 
federacy but that some other events gave signs of prom- 
ise. In the first place, the Prince of Orange had taken 
advantage of the confusion which followed the death of 
Requesens to gain the cities in Zeeland which had stood 
out for Spain. Then Harlem and Amsterdam were re- 
covered by an uprising of the people, so that two states 
were entirely freed from the foreign yoke. With these 
successes the other northern provinces fell into line, 
never thereafter to be separated. 


Nor was this all. The hero of Lepanto had come to 
the IsTetherlands Avith a scheme which was to be the 
crowning achievement of his romantic life. He exjDect^ 
ed by making generous concessions to secure a speedy 
peace, and then to cross over to England with his army 
of veterans, place himself at the head of the Catholics, 
release and marry Mary of Scotland — now nine years a 
prisoner — drive out Elizabeth, and take possession of 
the English throne. The project had the approval of 
the pope, and might have been successfully carried out 
but for the action of the ISTetherlanders which forced 
the immediate dismissal of the Spanish troops.* Still, 
its effect was not lost upon Elizabeth. Slowly she was 
reaching the conviction that for her own security she 
must aid the rebels across the Channel. Her counsel- 
lors, one and all, were of opinion that she should gener- 
ously espouse their cause ; but this was impossible for 
a woman of her nature. Finally, however, in 1578, 
she loaned them, on good security, a hundred thousand 
pounds, and furnished them with five thousand soldiers, 
to be supported at their cost. With this they had to be 
content, t 

In France the outlook was much brighter. As soon 
as the court recovered from its first excitement, the 
Massacre of St. Bartholomew was seen to have been a 
blunder. Spain was the leading Catholic power of Eu- 
rope, and as her ally France would have to take a sub- 
ordinate position, Avhile as a neutral or a secret enemy 
she could be first in influence. This consideration had 
led to a religious peace, in 1573, by which the Hugue- 

* Creighton's "Age of Elizabeth," p. 151. 

t Motley's "Dutch Republic," iii. 300, 338, 343. See as to her 
tortuous methods, Froude, xi. 127, etc. 


nots were given possession of La Eochelle and three 
other important towns. In 1574, Charles IX., haunted 
ever by the spectre of his murdered subjects, and with 
their shrieks and groans ringing in his ears, sank into 
the grave and was succeeded by his brother. The new 
monarch, Henry III., was a behever in the pohcy of 
opposition to the growing power of Spain. After long 
negotiations, his younger brother, the Duke of Anjou, 
offered the states his services, with those of ten thou- 
sand troops. In August, 1578, they were accepted, and 
he was declared " Defender of the liberty of the ISTeth- 
erlands against the tyranny of the Spaniards and their 

Tlie French troops were valuable allies, and if the 
patriots had not been impoverished something might 
have been done against Don John. That unfortunate 
commander was, however, almost as badly off as they. 
Philip had at first supplied him with money, but for 
months past had exhibited his usual parsimony and pro- 
crastination. In fact, the king seemed jealous of his 
soldier brother, and was desirous not only that he should 
not succeed in any of his ambitious plans, but that he 
should not live to vex him with his martial glory. He 
had both his wishes. The invasion of England became 
impossible through the resistance of the Netherland- 
ers ; without money for his troops, all other operations 
were suspended, and in October, 1578, death (which 
was, as usual, attributed to poison) closed the career 
of the warrior whose sun had risen in such a blaze of 

The air of the ISTetherlands had proved unwholesome 
to the last two governors. They were now to be suc- 
ceeded by a man whose rule was longer, and whose 
influence was to be more powerful for evil. Alexander 


of Parma was an Italian, a son of the trusted lieutenant 
of Charles Y. by Margaret, his natural daughter, Philip's 
first regent of the Netherlands. He was a soldier only 
second in reputation to Don John, and was to make 
for himself a reputation even more brilliant. In ad- 
dition, he had qualities possessed by none of his pred- 
ecessors, for he had all of the Italian's subtlety, skill 
in intrigue, and diplomatic cunning, with an absolutely 
unselfish devotion to his master. In the field he never 
lost his head ; in negotiations he never lost his patience. 
He pushed the war with vigor, but believed that it was 
cheaper to buy men than to conquer them with force. 
Unfortunately for the patriots, he had to deal in the 
southern provinces with a class of nobles who had no 
religious convictions and were eaten up with jealousy of 
the man whose lofty patriotism they could never com- 
prehend. Working upon these feelings and by the lav- 
ish use of money, Parma, before he had been six months 
in the country, won back the five lower Walloon states 
and attached them again to Spain. 

At about the same time, in 15Y9, the Prince of Orange 
effected a formal union of the seven northern Protestant 
provinces, binding them together by what is known as 
the Treaty, or Union, of Utrecht. This famous docu- 
ment, although at first not so intended, was the written 
Constitution of the ISTetherland Republic. 

By its provisions the contracting parties agreed to 
remain forever united as if they were one province. 
Each state was, however, to manage its own internal 
affairs, and preserve all its ancient liberties. Questions 
of war and peace, and those relating to the imposition 
of duties, were to be decided by a unanimous vote of all 
the states ; in other matters the majority were to decide, 
A common currency was to be established. And, finally, 


no city or province was to interfere with another in the 
matter of religion.* 

Up to this time the fiction had been retained that tlie 
rebelhous provinces were subject to Phihp, and were 
carrying on a war against him strictly within the lines 
of their respective charters or constitutions. But, in 
1581, two years after the Union of Utrecht, all this came 
to an end. Of the seventeen provinces five had returned 
to their allegiance. The other twelve, seven of which 
had united together to act as one, were still in open 
arms. For years they had tried by negotiations to se- 
cure the ancient rights which Phihp had sworn to main- 
tain when he assumed the throne. At last, even the 
most hopeful had come to the conclusion that all efforts 
for peace were useless, and that but one resource re- 
mained — to throw off the yoke of th^ir Spanish ruler 
by declaring their independence, and, if need be, seek- 
ing a new sovereign in other quarters. To accomplish 
the first of these objects, representatives from all the 
twelve states met at The Hague, and, on the 26th of 
July, 1581, solemnly declared their independence of 
Philip, and renounced their allegiance forever. 

The Declaration of Independence then put forth is 
one of the most important documents in history. A 
translation of it was found among the papers of Lord 
Somers and is published in his "Tracts." That great 
statesman used it as a model for the famous Declaration 
of Eights by which England, a century later, proclaimed 
the abdication of James II., and the selection of the 
Prince and Princess of Orange to fill the vacant throne. 
Again, after another century, it furnished the model for 
the still more celebrated Declaration by which the thir- 

* Motley, iii. 413. 


teen American colonies announced their independence 
of Great Britain. 

It began, " All mankind know that a prince is ap- 
pointed by God to cherish his subjects, even as a shep- 
herd to guard his sheep. When, therefore, the prince 
does not fulfil his duty as protector ; when he op- 
presses his subjects, destroys their ancient liberties, and 
treats them as slaves, he is to be considered not a prince, 
but a tyrant. As such, the estates of the land may law- 
full}'- and reasonably depose him, and elect another in 
his room." Then followed a long recital of the grievous 
wrongs which the people of the Netherlands had suffered 
at the hands of Philip ; the establishment of the Inqui- 
sition, the trampling on their guaranteed rights and privi- 
leges, the murders and massacres of tlie last quarter of 
a century, which they said justified them in forsaking 
a sovereign who had forsaken them. Obeying the law 
of nature, desirous of maintaining the rights, charters^ 
and liberties of their fatherland, determined to escape 
from slavery to the Spaniards, and making known 
their decision to the world, they declared the King of 
Spain deposed from his sovereignty, and proclaimed that 
they should recognize thenceforth neither his title nor 

Thus the dominion of Philip was abjured, but this did 
not mean the establishment of a republic. Such a scheme 
was not considered practicable, for the provinces thought 
themselves too weak to cope single-handed with the 
power of Spain. The renunciation of their allegiance 
was but the preliminary step to a new connection on 
which great hopes were founded. The Duke of Anjou 

* Lord Somers's " Tracts." See as to the novelty and great im- 
portance of this Declaration, Rogers's " Story of Holland," p. 107. 


was at this time engaged in the last scene of his mem- 
orable courtship of Queen Elizabeth. She had promised 
to marry him, and as her consort he could bring to the 
aid of the insurgents all the resources of Protestant 
England, while he would also have the moral support of 
France. With such prospects before him, although he 
had accomplished little as defender of their liberties, 
ten of the rebellious provinces now chose him as their 
sovereign. The other two, however, Holland and Zee- 
land, refused to unite in this action. They insisted 
that no one should rule over them except their beloved 
Prince of Orange. Being without personal ambition in 
the matter, and believing that under the circumstances 
the election of Anjou would be advantageous to the 
country, the Prince of Orange tried to reject the prof- 
fered honor, but his people would take no refusal, and 
he finally gave way. 

The wooing of Elizabeth by Anjou forms, in some of 
its features, one of the most comical incidents in English 
history. The " Yirgin Queen," as she loved to be called, 
was now in her forty-ninth year, and far from a paragon 
of beauty. Her face was long, and ornamented with a 
high hooked nose, little, dark, beady, short-sighted e3^es, 
thin lips, and a set of black teeth.* She beat her maids 
of honor, boxed the ears of her courtiers, and sAvore like 
a fish-woman.f The Duke of Anjou was twenty years 
her junior, but apart from his youth had no advantage 
in personal appearance. He was below the middle height, 
puny, and ill-shaped. His face was scarred by the small- 
pox, covered with red blotches, and his nose so swollen 

* Motley's "United Netherlands," i. 318, iii. 171, 359; "The Puri- 
tans and Queen Elizabeth," Samuel Hopkins, i. 123. 
t Harrington, " Nugse Antiquce," i. 354 ; Drake, p. 418. 


and distorted that it looked as if double ; a proper feat- 
ure, his enemies said, for a man who had two faces.* 
Added to these attractions was a voice which led Eliza- 
beth to call him her little " Frog." Still, he was the heir 
to the throne of France, and at this juncture an alliance 
with that power may have seemed to Elizabeth essential 
to her security. 

In the latter part of 1581, Anjou went to England for 
the third time to put an end to his long courtship. The 
arrangements for the marriage had been all completed, 
but perhaps a long look at such a lover was too much 
for a woman who even at sixty believed herself a Yenus. 
For three months he dangled about the court, while she 
played the coy maiden in her teens. The English people 
were alarmed at the prospect of another papistical mar- 
riage, the marriage denounced by Stubbs three years 
before in the famous pamphlet which cost him his right 
hand. Outwardly the queen seemed determined to ad- 
here to the engagement, but one pretext after another 
afforded excuses for delay. Possibly she may have felt 
doubtful of the promised aid from France in defending 
her kingdom against its enemies, or she may have wished 
to see how her future husband would conduct himself as 
sovereign of the Netherlands. But, whatever may have 
been her motives, the ceremony was postponed ; and in 
February, 1582, her noble, or ignoble, suitor, leaving his 

* The following epigram -was circulated in England upon Anjou's 
departure for the Netherlands: 

" Good people of Flanders, pray do not suppose 
That 'tis monstrous this Frenchman should double his nose; 
Dame Nature her flivors but rarely misplaces, 
She has given two noses to match his two faces." 

— Taylor's " Romantic Biography of the Age of Elizabeth," i. 93. 
(London, 1843.) 


mistress bathed in tears, recrossed the Channel, accom- 
panied by a splendid retinue of English nobles, to assume 
the duties of his new position.* 

When Anjou arrived in the IS'etherlands, he assumed 
in the ten provinces, where he had been elected sover- 
eign, the position of a constitutional monarch, with 
such powers only as the people claimed had rightfully 
belonged to Philip. He was installed as duke, count, or 
marquis of the various states, and took a solemn oath to' 
preserve inviolate the ancient liberties and to maintain 
the right of conscience. He was also to procure the 
assistance of his brother, the King of France, and main- 
tain a perpetual league, offensive and defensive, between 
that kingdom and the provinces. As for Holland and 
Zeeland, they were to remain as they were, subject to 
the Prince of Orange. 

But the new ruler, who had no more idea of constitu- 
tional liberty than Philip himself, and who had come 
into the country from the lowest motives of personal 
ambition, soon began to chafe under the restraints im- 
posed upon him by the ancient charters. He complained 
that he was a monarch only in form, the real power 
being held by the States-General. A brilliant victory 
in the field might have done something for him, by 
winning him the hand of Elizabeth or by procuring sub 
stantial assistance from his brother ; but he was no match 
for Parma, and could see nothing before him but a long 
contest, from which he would gain little. In this position, 
and incited by his French counseEors, who taunted him 

* Despite his personal appearance, Anjou must have had some 
attractions. Hallam agrees with Lingard in tliinking that Elizabeth 
had a real passion for him. " Const. Hist.," i. 233. The marriage, he 
says, was clearly repugnant to good policy. 


with his insignificance, he attempted a movement which 
showed how little he understood his subjects. The plan 
was, with the aid of his own troops, to take possession 
of the most important cities and make himself supreme 
by force. The first attack Avas made on Antwerp, in 
June, 1583, but the burghers rose in force, drove out the 
French with great slaughter, and Anjou, who was wait- 
ing without the walls, retired in deep disgust. Such an 
act of treachery naturally gave rise to intense indigna- 
tion, and the Estates wished to confer the sovereignty 
on the Prince of Orange. He peremptorily refused, de- 
claring that under no circumstances would he place it in 
the power of Philip to say that he had been actuated by 
selfish motives. Finally, he succeeded in persuading the 
Estates to overlook the past upon the ground that it 
would be dangerous to break with France. The year 
was spent in negotiations looking to a renewal of the 
old relations. They proved fruitless, however, and were 
finally terminated by the death of Anjou, whose worth- 
less career came to an end in the summer of 1584. 

Brief and inglorious as was the rule of Anjou, and 
despicable as was his character, their connection with 
him was not without advantage to the ISTetherlanders. 
In such a contest every year, or even every month, is 
a decided gain. The northern, provinces were daily 
growing in strength and in the feeling of self-confi- 
dence. The war was transferred largely to the South, 
and even the limited moral support of France and Eng- 
land had been of inestimable benefit. 

During the whole movement the Prince of Orange 
had shown incomparable sagacity as a statesman, and 
Philip regarded him as almost his only enemy. Remove 
this enemy, he thought, and all disaffection would soon 
cease. The first attempt was made by bribery. When 


Parma assumed the government he found many of the 
J^etherland nobles in the lower provinces purchasable as 
cattle at a fair. Perhaps he thought that all men had 
their price ; he certainly had no conception of the char- 
acter of this man, or of his Protestant associates in Hol- 
land, no one of whom was ever bought with gold.* The 
Prince of Orange was offered any terms that he might 
name — the release of his son, the restoration of his confis- 
cated property, the payment of his debts, and a million 
in addition. All such offers he met with silent contempt. 
His debts incurred during the progress of the war were 
enormous, almost sufficient to sweep aw^ay his vast es- 
tates ; he loved his son, and no man had been fonder 
of luxury and all that wealth can buy. These things 
Philip and Parma knew, but they did not know the man. 
Bribery proving of no avail, Philip now turned to 
murder. In June, 1580, he issued a proclamation, de- 
claring the prince an outlaw, and offering a reward of 
twenty-five thousand crowns to any person who would 
rid him of " the pest." In addition, the assassin was to 
be forgiven any past crimes, however heinous, and, if 
not noble already, was to be ennobled " for his valor." f 
Following this ban, five successive attempts were made 
upon the great patriot's life. One, in 1582, proved nearly 
fatal, a bullet entering his neck and passing through the 
jaw. He thought himself mortally wounded, but, even 
in what seemed his last agony, did not forget the exam- 
ple of his divine Master. " Do not kill him. I forgive 
him my death," he said to the bystanders who rushed 
upon the would-be murderer. Then two more years 
rolled around and the bullet of the assassin proved ef- ' 
fectual. On July 10th, 1584, Balthazar Gerard fired the 

* Davies, ii. 656. t Motley, iil. 493. 


shot which brought such joy to Philip as he had not felt 
since the clay of St. Bartholomew, but which wrapped a 
land in mourning. The pope, the Jesuits who aided in 
the plot, the assassin himself, and the monarch who en- 
nobled and enriched his heirs, all declared that the mur- 
derer had done God's work. The victim died breath- 
ing the prayer, " God have mercy on my poor people !" 
Three centuries have judged between them. 

Thus fell the foremost Puritan of the age, perhaps of 
all the ages. For sixteen years he had headed the con- 
test against the power of Spain. In that time, although 
much remained to be done, a mighty work had been 
accomplished. At the outset there had been seventeen 
separate provinces — full of vitality and love of liberty, to 
be sure, but disorganized, undisciplined, unconscious of 
their power. Through them swarmed a host of Prot- 
estants, ready enough to die for their rehgion, but not 
knowing how otherwise to make their lives useful to the 
cause. Untrained to warfare, they fell in the field be- 
fore Alva as before a cyclone. This, as we have seen, was 
not from lack of courage. Like the Spanish moun- 
taineers, two centuries later, if their armies fought like 
mobs, their mobs fought like armies. What they did 
with discipline will appear hereafter, but at the open- 
ing of the struggle their future seemed indeed a hope- 
less one. To this people William of Orange came as 
a savior. His triumphs were not like those of Crom- 
well, for the latter's adversaries knew little more of prac- 
tical warfare than his soldiers or himself. Besides this, 
Cromwell was a leader among a martial nation.* All 

* A recent writer has well said that when an Englishman is in 
want of amusement he goes out and kills something. Froude's 
" Oceana." This instinct has always characterized the race. 
I.— 16 


their pleasures and pursuits made them at the time of 
the great rebellion the best material out of which to 
form an army. The Parliamentary recruits had the 
same opportunity to acquire discipline as their oppo- 
nents, and hence, with more intensity of purpose, be- 
came invincible in the field. 

With the JS'etherlanders it was very different. For 
centuries they had been pursuing the arts of peace, while 
their adversaries had been cultivating war. Their supe- 
rior civilization at the beginning of the struggle worked 
against them, but in the end, engrafted as it was on a 
brave and sturdy nature, this high civilization told. That 
it did so, and that not in its despite, but by reason of 
it, they finally achieved and maintained their indepen- 
dence, while just the reverse occurred in England, is one 
of the most important lessons taught by history. 

It was, therefore, in the beginning of the contest that 
the most difficult work had to be accomplished ; and when 
the hour struck, William of Orange appeared. His task 
was to encourage the people, keep up their hopes, teach 
them their strength, heal their dissensions, reconcile their 
differences, and mould them together as one nation. At 
his death seven of the provinces had entirly thrown off 
the foreign yoke, and were bound together in a perma- 
nent union. Five more were in open revolt, although 
attached to the others by a lighter chain. Had he lived 
a few years longer, the republic might have embraced 
them all ; but such speculations, of course, are idle. He 
had laid a great foundation, and with that history must 
be content. 

In one quarter, however, his work was substantially 
finished, and if he had done nothing else, this alone would 
entitle him to imperishable honor. As the founder, of 
religious toleration, which, largely through the influence 


of Holland, has developed into religious liberty, the pe- 
culiar glory of the United States, every American at 
least should revere his memory. 

It was an age when religious toleration, except as a 
political necessity, was a thing unknown. Sir Thomas 
More, in England, had playfully speculated upon the 
subject, but when placed in power had developed into a 
bitter persecutor.* William of Orange not only advo- 
cated, but practised, principles of full religious tolera- 
tion. Nor were his theories, as is the case with many 
men, the result of indifferences or coldness of belief. He 
had been born a Catholic, and in youth was not free 
from the looseness of morals which the age permitted 
and excused.f But when in voluntary exile he turned 
his thoughts to religion and became a devout Christian. 
In October, 1573, he joined the Calvinists, and thereaf- 
ter, in life and thought, was one of the straitest of the 
sect. Such converts usually swell the host of the intol- 
erant. It was not so with him. He could bear with the 
errors of others, because he believed in the goodness of 
the Almighty, and felt himself unworthy of forgiveness. 
During his rule in Holland and Zeeland, where for years 
he was almost a military dictator, these principles were 
put to the severest test. Fortunately for the world, they 
were strong enough to stand the strain. 

The people about him had been the victims of a per- 
secution which had furrowed the soil with graves and 
filled the land with widows and orphans. "When they 
came into power, by driving out the Spaniards, it was 

* See Hallam's " Literature of Europe " for a judicious criticism 
of the famous " Utopia ;" also Foxe's " Book of Martyrs " for an ac- 
count of More in practice. 

t His natural sou afterwards became Admiral of Holland. 


but human to think of retahation. More than this, they 
had every other motive that ever bred intolerance in 
other lands, and all intensified in degree. The Catholics 
among them not only professed a creed which they be- 
lieved born of hell, but, in addition, were largely public 
enemies or lukewarm friends. They were men whom 
they had fought in street broils, who had advised the 
surrender of their towns, and whom they suspected of 
plotting against their liberties. Under such conditions, 
loud were the cries for the extirpation or banishment of 
the hated papists ; still louder were those for the sup- 
pression of their form of worship. Against all this Will- 
iam of Orange stood like a wall of adamant. Open or 
known civil enemies could be banished or suppressed, he 
said, but no man must be molested on account of his re- 
ligious faith. Of course he was denounced. Ministers 
from the pulpit declared that he cared nothing either for 
God or for religion. Even his brother, John of Kassau, 
protested against toleration of the Catholics. But he 
carried the day ; and when the union was formed be- 
tween Holland and Zeeland, it was provided that no 
inquisition should be made into any man's belief or 
conscience, nor should any man by cause thereof suf- 
fer injury or hindrance.* The Reformed' Evangelical 
Church was established for the state, but no other form 
of religion was to be suppressed unless contrary to the 
Gospel. Toleration thus became the corner-stone of 
the republic, and under this liberal doctrine all sects 
throve and were protected, even the Jews, who denied 
the Gospel, never being disturbed on that account.f 

* Motley, iii. 59. 

t In 1586, Catholics held office and taught school in the city of 
Leyden. Motley's "United Netherlands," ii. 333. 


As some of the rebellious provinces contained a major- 
ity of Catholics, a system of toleration towards them 
would be dictated by wise policy. If, therefore, they 
alone had been protected, history might be content with 
giving William of Orange credit for statesmanship only, 
although that kind of statesmanship was then, almost as 
rare as toleration from principle. But his conduct tow- 
ards other religious bodies disposes of the theory that 
he stood on any except the highest plane of thought 
and action. In proof of this, we may look at the ex- 
perience of one of these bodies, the most interesting of 
them all, especially to Americans, as the reader will 
see when we come to trace the growth of dissent in 

Among the many sects brought forth in the early 
ferment of the Reformation, the Anabaptists have per- 
haps left the most unsavory reputation. First appear- 
ing about 1522, some of them had, twelve years later, 
been, guilty in Holland of gross and immoral extrava- 
gances, which historians have fully pictured, and the re- 
membrance of which has always clung around their 
name.* Such events it is characteristic of human nature 
to dwell upon, but corresponding stress has not always 
been laid on the subsequent history of this interesting 
people. In fact, their excesses were the work of but a 
minority of the sect, and were also of very brief duration. 
After a rule of a few months, their prophets were put 
to death, leaving behind them a numerous body of ear- 
nest disciples who had acquiesced in. polygamous prac- 
tices only from a conviction that they were divinely or- 
dained. With their leaders gone, the offensive doctrines 
of the old dispensation were universally abandoned. 

* Davies's " Holland;' i. 396. 


Most of the sect changed their name to Mennonites,* 
and they all confined themselves to tenets derived from, 
the 'New Testament, which made them the most peace- 
ful and inoffensive Christians of the world. 

Their most striking article of faith, the one which 
gave them a name, was that baptism should be confined 
to adults, including those wdio had been baptized in in- 
fancy by other denominations. But this, if the most 
striking, was not the most important of their doctrines. 
In early days they were composed almost entirely of 
the unlearned, who could understand the simple teach- 
ings of the Founder of Christianity more easily than 
those of his philosophic successors. Hence it was, per- 
haps, that, antedating the English Quakers by more than 
a century, they took the words of the Great Master seri- 
ously,f and believed it wrong to resist evil, go to law, 
bear arms, take oaths, or assume any ofiice of magis- 
tracy w^hich might cause them to judge others. These 
tenets, of course, included the broad doctrine of entire 
sejDaration of Church and State, and perfect liberty of 
conscience. :|: Private ownership of property they at 
first also abandoned as unchristian, holding that all 
thino;s should be in common,§ 

* They called themselves Mennonites, after Meuno Simons, of Fries- 
land, a new leader, but by others were still called Anabaptists. 

t A phrase used by W. D. Howells when reviewing " My Relig- 
ion," by Count Leo Tolstoi, in Ra7ye7-''s Magazine for 1886. 

X " The Anabaptists in Switzerland," by Dr. Pliilip ScbaflF, Baptist 
QuarteHy Review, July, 1889. 

§ Davies's "Holland," i. 396. The Eussian author. Count Tolstoi, 
in " My Religion," without alluding to the Anabaptists or Quakers, 
advocates these doctrines with great abilitj^, as embodying the prin- 
ciples of Christianity before the admixture of Greek philosophy or 
Roman paganism. 


What tliey professed they practised. An incident 
which occurred in 1569, during the rule of Alva, illus- 
trates their ideas of returning good for evil. A poor 
Anabaptist was pursued by an officer of justice, who, 
under the order of the Inquisition, wished to bring him 
to the stake. The fugitive passed over a frozen lake, the 
brittle ice of which cracked beneath his feet. The offi- 
cer, following hard after, was less fortunate. He sank 
into the deep water, uttering cries for help. l>lo one else 
was near to save him, and so the hunted fugitive, at the 
peril of his own life, recrossed the treacherous ice and 
rescued his enemy from certain death. Then, giving 
life for life, he went back and met a martyr's doom.* 

Such a people had no political influence, and some of 
the Calvinists of the time thought their heresies worthy 
of the severest punishment. Zwingli, in Switzerland, 
had denounced their doctrine of adult baptism as deserv- 
ing of death, and under his influence a number were 
executed there, while in Germany they suffered by the 
thousand. f In Holland an attempt was made simply 
to exclude them from citizenship, and even Sainte Alde- 
gonde, the accomplished scholar and friend of the Prince 
of Orange, was in favor of the project. How he was 
met is told in one of his own letters. " The affair of 
the Anabaptists has been renewed. The prince objects 
to exclude them from citizenship. He answered me 
sharply that their yea was equal to our oath, and that 
we should not press this matter unless we were willing 
to confess that it was just for the papists to compel us to 
a divine service which was ao-ainst our conscience. In 

* Motley's " Dutch Republic," ii. 280, citing Brandt's " History of 
the Reformation," sec. 1, b. x. p. 500. 
t " The Anabaptists in Switzerland." 


short, I don't see how we can accomplish our wish in 
this matter. The prince has uttered reproaches to me 
that our clergy are striving- to obtain a mastery over 
conscience." * 

This was in 15YT. In the next year the authorities of 
Middelburg, in Zeeland, attempted a persecution of the 
Anabaptists in their midst. This the prince at once 
arrested. He wrote to the magistrates reminding them 
that these peaceful burghers were always perfectl}^ will- 
ing to bear their share of the common burdens, that 
their word was as good as an oath, and that as to the 
matter of military service, although their principles for- 
bade them to bear arms, they had ever been ready to 
provide and pay for substitutes. " We declare to you, 
therefore," said he, " that you have no right to trouble 
yourselves with any man's conscience so long as nothing 
is done to cause private harm or public scandal. We 
therefore expressly ordain that you desist from molest- 
ing these Baptists, from offering hindrance to their 
handicraft and daily trade by which they can earn bread 
for their wives and children, and that you permit them 
henceforth to open their shops and to do their work ac- 
cording to the custom of former days. Beware, there- 
fore, of disobedience and of resistance to the ordinance 
which we now establish. "f 

Thus did William of Orange protect even the mem- 
bers of this poor and despised sect. His influence was 
effectual, for we hear little more of any attempts at 
their persecution in the Dutch Eepublic,;}: 

* Motley, iii. 206. Brandt's " History of the Reformation," sec. 1, 
b. xi. pp. 588, 589. t Motley, iii. 334. Brandt, i. 609,610. 

I In Holland, the Mennonites, or Anabaptists, were exempted from 
military service in 1575, from taking an oath in 1585, and from ac- 


Some eighty-five years after this last event, a govern- 
or of the colony which the Dutch "West India Company 
had planted on the Hudson River, in America, began on 
his own account a persecution of some harmless Quakers 
who had been driven from Massachusetts. An appeal 
was made to the home authorities at Amsterdam, who 
extinguished it at once by a letter containing these 
memorable words : " At least the consciences of men 
ought to remain free. Let every one remain free as 
long as he is modest, moderate, his political conduct irre- 
proachable, and as long as he does not offend others or 
oppose the government. This maxim of moderation has 
always been the guide of our magistrates in this city ; 
and the consequence has been that people have flocked 
from every land to this asylum. Tread thus in their 
steps, and we doubt not you will be blessed." * In this 
manner did the principles of toleration established by 
William in Holland bear their fruits in America, twenty 
years before the great English Quaker carried them to 

cepting any public office in 1617. In Zeeland, freedom from military 
service and oaths was granted tliem in 1577, but tlierc, at a later 
day, and also in Frisia, they paid a heavy poll-tax for the military 
exemption. Barclay's "Inner Life of the Religious Societies of the 
Commonwealth," p. 608. How they were burned at the stake in 
Protestant England we shall see in due time. 

* Brodhead's " History of New York," i. 707. 

t Penn himself fully appreciated the religious liberty which ex- 
isted in the Dutch Republic. In 1686, a century after the death of 
William of Orange, he published a treatise entitled " A Persuasive 
■;o Moderation," an argument for liberty of conscience to all church 
dissenters. In tliis work he gives an illustration of what real liber- 
ty can accomplish. " Holland, that bog of the v/orld, neither sea nor 
dry land, now the rival of the tallest monarchs, not by conquests, 
marriage, or accession of royal blood, the usual way to empire, but 


Passing- over still another century, we come to the 
time when, having thrown, off the authority of Great 
Britain, the thirteen American colonies adopted state 
constitutions. Of all the thirteen, two, and two only — 
Virginia and New York — embodied in their great char- 
ters of freedom guarantees for religious liberty. 

But even the action of Virginia, much as it is deserv- 
ing of praise, falls somewhat behind the action of ISlew 
York. The other states retained religious tests for their 
officials, or in some form made religious discrimina- 
tions. Virginia, in 1776, issued a Declaration of Kights, 
which, it is claimed, formed part of her Constitution, 
laying down the principle, " That religion, or the duty 
which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of dis- 
charging it, can be directed only by reason and convic- 
tion, not by force or violence ; and, therefore, all men 
are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion ac- 
cording to the dictates of conscience ; and that it is the 
mutual duty of all to practise Christian forbearance, 
love, and charit}'^ towards each other." These were 
novel sentiments in that region, and bore fruit in time ; 
still, the state retained its established church until 1785, 
and "in various other ways fell short of practising full 
religious liberty.* 

by her own superlative clemency and industry, for the one was the 
eft'ect of the other. She cherished lier people, whatsoever were their 
opinions, as the reasonable stock of the country, the heads and 
hands of her trade and wealth ; and making tiiem easy ou tlie main 
point, their conscience, she became great by them. This made her 
fill up with people, and tliey filled her with riches and strengtli." 

* See "Proceedings of American Historical Society," iii. No. 1, 
p, 205. Even in Rhode Island, founded by Roger Williams, Roman 
Catholics were deprived of the suffrage, under a statute which was 
passed in 1719, and not repealed until 1783. See Repealing act, 


]^ew York, however, in its first Constitution, adopted 
in 17Y7, proceeded at the outset to do away with the 
estabhshed church, repeahng all such parts of the com- 
mon law and all such statutes of the province " as may 
be construed to establish or maintain any particular de- 
nomination of Christians or their ministers."* Then 
followed a section much broader and more explicit than 
that in the Yirginia Declaration of Eights — a section 
which, it is believed, entitles ISTew York to the honor 
of being the first organized government of the world 
to assert by constitutional provision the principle of 
perfect religious freedom. It reads as follows : " And 
whereas, we are required by the benevolent principles 
of rational liberty, not only to expel civil tyranny, but 
also to guard against that spiritual oppression and in- 
tolerance wherewith the bigotry and ambition of weak 
and wicked priests and princes have scourged mankind, 
this convention doth further, in the name and by the 
authority of the good people of this state, ordain, de- 
termine, and declare that the free exercise and enjoy- 
ment of religious profession and worship, without dis- 
crimination or preference, shall forever hereafter be al- 
lowed within this state to all mankind." f 

Thomas Jefferson, to whom Yirginia is chiefly in- 
debted for her religious liberty, derived his religious as 
well as his political ideas from the philosophers of 
Trance. But the men who framed this constitutional 

"Mass. Hist. Coll.," 3cl series, v. 243. However, as there were no 
Catholics iu Rhode Island, this law did not interfere with the prac- 
tical religious liberty that always existed iu that colony. If the 
state had adopted a Constitution when the others did, it doubtless 
would have been as liberal as was that of New York. 

* Section 35. " t Section 38. 


provision for JSTew York, which has since spread over 
most of the United States, and lies at the base of Amer- 
ican rehgious Uberty, Avere not freethinkers, although 
they believed in freedom of thought. Their Dutch an- 
cestors had practised religious toleration, they expanded 
toleration into liberty, and in this form transmitted to 
posterity the heritage which Holland had sent across 
the sea a century and a half before.* 

How far the example of Holland influenced the states- 
men who, at a later date, placed in the Federal Consti- 
tution its guarantees of religious liberty can be shown 
by very high authority. This instrument, as originally 
adopted in 1787, contains a provision f that "no relig- 
ious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any 
office or public trust under the United States." By an 
amendment, added in 1791, Congress is prohibited from 
making any law " respecting an establishment of relig- 
ion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.'' 

James Madison, of Virginia, was the chief advocate 
of this amendment in Congress. Writino- about it, some 

* The first Coustitution of Maryland, 1776, provided for a belief 
in the Cliristian religion as a qualification for office. In 1868 this 
was changed to a " belief in the existence of God." The first Con- 
stitution of Massachusetts, 1790, contained tlie same provision as 
that of Maryland. It was struck out by an amendment in 1823, 
but the state church was retained until 1833. The first constitu- 
tions of New Jersey and North Carolina restricted ofiice-holding to 
Protestant believers in tlie Bil)le. This was modified in New Jer- 
sey in 1844, and in Nortli Carolina in 1868, so as to limit the test 
to a belief in God. The only religious disabilities now existing in 
any of the United States are the exclusion of atheists from office in 
New Jersey, jNIaryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Caro- 
lina, and Tennessee, and the exclusion of clergymen in Delaware, 
Maryland, and Tennessee. t Article vi. 


thirty years later, he said: "It was the belief of all 
sects at one time that the establishment of religion by 
law was right and necessary; that the true religion 
ought to be established in exclusion of every other ; 
and that the only question to be decided was, which 
was the true religion. The example of Holland proved 
that a toleration of sects dissenting from the established 
sect was safe and even useful. The example of the 
colonies, now states, which rejected religious establish- 
ments altogether, proved that all sects might be safely 
and advantageously put on a footing of equal and en- 
tire freedom. It is impossible to deny that in Virginia 
religion prevails with more zeal and a more exemplary 
priesthood than it ever did when established and pat- 
ronized by public authority. We are teaching the world 
the great truth that governments do better without 
kings and nobles than Avitli them. The merit will be 
doubled by the other lesson, that religion flourishes in 
greater purity without than ^vith the aid of govern- 
ment." * 

We have thus traced some few of the results which 
followed in the train of the religious toleration estab- 
lished in Holland before the death of the Prince of 
Orange, a subject which will be more fully discussed in 
some later chapters when considering the independent 
sects which grew up in England. That he was the 
leader in settling this great principle admits of no ques- 
tion, but still he should not have all the honor. It is 
unjust, as many writers have done, to charge the Puri- 
tans of England or 'New England with the intolerance 
of a portion of their number, and it is equally unjust to 

* Madison to Edward Livingston, July 10th, 1823, " Letters and 
other Writings of James Madison," iii. 275, 276. 


take from the people of Holland their meed of praise. 
Much as they loved their chosen ruler, he could have 
accomplished little had they not stood behind him and 
given him support. As we have seen, narrow-minded 
fanatics, there as elsewhere, pronounced toleration a 
covenant with hell, but they must have been in a de- 
cided minority. Certainly they had no power, after 
the death of the Prince of Orange, to overthrow his 
work. This fact tells its own story. Holland never 
knew any persecution for religious differences, except 
for a few years in the next century, after the famous 
Synod of Dort, a subject which will be considered when 
we reach that period. 

JSTothing so well illustrates the difference between 
England and the ISTetherlands, during the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries, as the contrasted effects produced 
by the death of Cromwell and by that of William the 
Silent. Cromwell was the military and civil leader of 
the English Commonwealth. The revolution which 
raised him to power was not a sudden outburst of pop- 
ular excitement. Had it been of that character, one 
might have looked for its speedy termination, for such 
violent ebullitions are usually short-lived. This out- 
break, on the contrary, had been gathering force for 
many years, and then was very slow in taking form; 
but it was based on the assertion of rights which, if they 
ever existed, had rested in comparativ^e desuetude for 
many generations. It was this fact which caused the 
weakness of the Commonwealth, for men will always 
bear an old burden with greater patience than a new 
one, even although the latter may be lighter. Its 
rapid downfall was due to the further fact that the 
movement went too far. The soldiers who conquered 
the royalists and decapitated their king thought that 


they could establish a republic such as they saw ex- 
isting in the United JSTetherlands. Unfortunately, the 
people behind them, even those who preferred liberty 
to servitude, knew little of self-government. It was, 
in truth, putting new wine into old bottles. Cromwell 
died, and the Commonwealth died with him. 

Such a result as this was anticipated by Philip, when 
he offered a reward for the removal of his illustrious 
arch-enemy. Hearing that he had succeeded, his exul- 
tation was natural enough. But he little comprehended 
the people, of whom his victim was only a representa- 
tive. He had no conception of what their centuries of 
civilization and practice in self-government had accom- 
plished for them, and never imagined how independent 
they were of any leaders. He was soon, however, to be 
fully undeceived. 

When the news of the assassination of "William the 
Silent spread through the Netherlands like the shock of 
an earthquake, all was naturally in confusion. He had 
been indeed the father of his country, and the people 
felt that they were orphans. In his own family there 
was no one then qualified to take his place, although he 
left eleven children and a widow, the daughter of the 
great Cohgny. The eldest son was still in Spain, where, 
sadly enough, he had been made a Spaniard in everv- 
thing except reverence for his father's memory. The 
next son, Prince Maurice of ISTassau, was a brave but 
quiet, self-contained lad of eighteen, giving as yet little 
promise of being the foremost general of his age. He, 
however, was shortly thereafter chosen stadtholder of 
Holland and Zeeland, in recognition of his father's ser- 
vices. The salary now attached to the office, with an 
additional provision for the widow, came in time of 
need for the unhappy family. The prince had died so 


deeply in debt that even his furniture, silver, and ward- 
robe had to be sold to satisfy his creditors. 

Still, although without a head, the people had no 
thought of making peace with Spain. On the very day 
of the assassination, the Estates of Holland passed a res- 
olution "to maintain the good cause, with God's help, 
to the uttermost, without sparing gold or blood." In a 
few days the States-General met. Their first work was 
to appoint an executive council of eighteen, selected 
from the different provinces, with Prince Maurice at its 
head, to conduct mihtary operations. Then the ques- 
tion arose as to permanent arrangements for the future. 

As we shall see hereafter, the republic had already 
come, but its presence was unrecognized. ISTo idea 
prevailed as yet in the mind of any one that the con- 
test could be carried on alone. During the lifetime of 
William ten of the states had experimented with the 
worthless Anjou as a sovereign, because he was the 
brother of a king, and affianced to a queen. They all 
now concluded that they must place themselves directly 
under some foreign power, who would help them against 
Spain, preserving their ancient liberties, but otherwise 
taking the place which had been forfeited by Philip. 
Among the European states, but two were so situated 
as to be available. These were England and France. 
England was nominally Protestant, but was governed 
by a queen who hated and persecuted the Calvinists 
more bitterly than she did the papists. It was not to 
be expected that she would have much friendship for 
the strict Calvinists of the Netherlands. On the other 
hand, France was nominally Catholic, but religious tol- 
eration had been practised there for years. The mon- 
arch was childless, and it was known that he could have 
no children. The next heir to the throne, Anjou being 


dead, was the chivalrous Henry of Kavarre, the leader 
of the Huguenots. Under such circumstances, the pros- 
pects in France seemed to be more favorable. 

With the French king, therefore, negotiations were 
opened directly after the death of the Prince of Orange. 
We need not go into the details ; suffice it to say that 
they extended over eight precious months, and were 
then terminated by the final declination of the proffered 
sovereignty. The people of the I*^etherlands did not at 
first know what brought about this sudden decision. 
From the earnest assurances of the Huguenots and the 
ambassador of the king himself, they had been led to 
expect a different result. The course of events told the 
story. The Catholics of Europe were unwilling that 
Henry of l^avarre should accede to the throne, and were 
plotting for his exclusion. The pope, who was working 
for the interest of the Church, and Philip of Spain, who 
saw that civil war in France would cut off all hope of 
aid to the Netherlands from that quarter, found tools 
to do their work. They were the same instruments who, 
thirteen years before, had carried out the Massacre of 
St. Bartholomew — the king's mother, Catherine de' 
Medici, and the Duke of Guise.* 

To execute their plans, all the Guise family, supported 
by the prominent Catholic nobles of the kingdom, en- 

* In justice to the memory of Catherine as a woman of ability, 
however bad at heart, it should be said that she consented to the 
League with great reluctance, and only as a last resort. She was 
now, as she had been thirteen years earlier, very desirous of an alli- 
ance between England and France to aid the Protestants in the 
Netherlands. Now again Elizabeth refused such an alliance, and 
exhibited the same chicanery as before. This conduct again drove 
Catherine into the arms of the ultra-Catholics, and the king, having- 
no other course open, went with his mother. Froude, xii. 88, etc. 

I.— 17 


tered with Philip into the memorable " League.'^ Philip 
was to supply money from Spain, and the other parties 
were to extirpate heresy in France and in the Nether- 
lands. Henry of l^avarre was to be declared incapable 
of succeeding to the throne, and his place was to be taken 
by his father's younger brother, whom, however, the 
Duke of Guise had secretly decided to supplant, while 
Philip as secretly had decided that his own daughter 
was to take the place. Thus civil war was again to 
raise its head in the land, for the miserable monarch, 
as weak and helpless as his brother Charles, Avas forced 
to ally himself, at least openly, with the enemies of 

All these arrangements were completed, but kept 
concealed, when, in March, 1585, the deputies from the 
States-General received their final answer. Within two 
weeks the Duke of Guise unfurled the banners of the 
Holy League. Four months later the French king, at its 
dictation, issued the edict which was to drench France 
with blood. By its provisions, all former edicts guaran- 
teeing religious toleration were revoked. Death and 
confiscation of property were now proclaimed as the 
penalty of heresy. Six months were allowed to the non- 
conformists to make their peace with Mother Church ; 
after that period they were to leave the country, or ex- 
piate their crimes upon the gallows. The towns held 
by the Huguenots were to be given up, while the Guise 
party was to receive certain cities as security that the 
bloody edict should be carried out. The next month 
the pope thundered his decree from the Vatican, ex- 
communicating Henry of Navarre, stripping hiui of all 
dignities, titles, and property, and declaring him incapa- 
ble of ever ascending the throne of France. 

Surely Philip of Spain had here done a satisfactory 


piece of work in bis campaign against the ISTetlierlands. 
He had lighted a flame which for many a long day would 
destroy all hope of aid from France. The white-plumed 
knight was not the man tamely to surrender his inherit- 
ance, nor did his followers purpose either to go into exile 
or quietly to ascend the scaffold. They flew at once to 
arms, fought heroically, and ultimately saved themselves 
by the reconciliation of their leader with the Church of 
Rome ; but needing aid themselves, could render little 
to their co-religionists in Holland. 

Meantime the Prince of Parma was making sad havoc 
in the lower Catholic portion of the United Provinces. 
There it was that the death of the founder of the repub- 
lic was most seriously felt. He had held the general 
union together solely by his matchless skill in diplomacy. 
'Now that he was gone, it seemed in danger of utter ruin. 
City after city was captured or made peace with Spain. 
Bruges, Ghent, Brussels, and Mechlin, all fell in turn, 
and finally, in August, 1585, Antwerp was taken, after 
a siege of seven months, one of the most memorable in 
the history of war. 

With the fall of Antwerp the prospects for religious 
or civil liberty in Europe seemed very dark. In Germany, 
the emperor was the nephew and brother-in-law of Philip, 
and also a strict Catholic. The Protestant princes were 
apathetic, and, being Lutherans, to them the Calvinists 
were almost as obnoxious as the papists. On the south- 
east lay the Ottoman empire, where the Turk, still for- 
midable, made the nation tremble at each breath. Ko 
assistance could be looked for from that quarter. How 
little could be expected from the Protestants of France 
has been already shown. Spain seemed marching on to 
universal dominion. In 1580, she had conquered Portu- 
gal, in a campaign which Alva closed in less than two 


months. This conquest nearly doubled her power. While 
she had been winning possessions in the New World, her 
neighbor had been acquiring even more valuable ones in 
Africa, India, and the islands of the Pacific. Though less 
in extent, the Portuguese settlements brought in more 
wealth than the colonies of Spain. All these possessions 
Alva's sword had transferred to Philip, and with them 
the only navy that as yet rivalled his own. He now 
claimed the mastery of the Pacific as well as that of the 
Atlantic and the Mediterranean. 

And where was England, Protestant England, all this 
time? Where was the great queen who should have 
been, as she has been styled, the defender of Protestant- 
ism in Europe ? The question as to the position of Eng- 
land will be discussed in some subsequent chapters. That 
relating to Elizabeth can be briefly answered. Through- 
out the whole struggle she had been trying simply to 
save herself. Men have often died for a cause ; she was 
willing that any cause should die for her. At the dark- 
est hour of the contest, when Alva had subdued all the 
ITetherland provinces, except part of Holland and Zee- 
land, and William of Orange was almost in despair, she 
had bent all her energies to prevent him from obtaining 
aid from France, lest that power should gain too great 
strength. Again, when Requesens came on the scene 
with his policy of reconciliation, based on a restoration 
of civil liberty provided the rebels w^ould give up the 
religious question, she had used all her influence to have 
his terms accepted. Such a peace would have benefited 
her commerce, and she could not understand why these 
obstinate Dutchmen should stand out for what seemed 
to her the merest trifle, simply the right to worship God 
as they saw fit. She had no sympathy and no patience 
with such sentiments. To her the conduct of William 


of Orange and his compatriots was as incomprehensible 
as the bigotry of Philip. 

For twenty-seven years Elizabeth had now kept the 
throne. Enemies surrounded her on every side, but she 
had secured peace for the kingdom and safety for her- 
self. " 1^0 war, no war," she cried to her ministers, and 
generally evaded it through the complications between 
France and Spain by some piece of feminine dujDlicity. 
The rehgious question gave her the most trouble. Here 
her motto was, " Xo zeal." On the one side stood the 
great majority of her subjects, not sentimentally zealous 
to be sure, but still imbued with Catholic traditions. On 
the other side was arrayed a rapidly growing class of 
Eeformers, believing in the doctrines of Calvin, and re- 
garding the practices of the Eomish Church as no better 
than idolatry. Her sympathies were with the former, 
but her main object had been to keep control of the situ- 
ation and prevent the committal of England to either 
side. Thus far she had succeeded in maintaining a pol- 
icy of indifference ; but in spite of all her efforts, and 
notwithstanding her own want of religious convictions, 
events were marching on which compelled a more de- 
cided stand. As these events were to force England into 
the contest with Spain, and to bring about the relations 
with the ^Netherlands which were to prove so |)otent in 
their influence both upon England and America, we may 
well pause here to consider with some care what kind of 
a land England was, and by what kind of a people it 
was inhabited, three centuries ago. Thus only shall we 
comprehend the history and the character of the Eng- 
lish and American Puritans to whom this period gave 



The preceding pages have been devoted mainly to the 
affairs of the JSTetherlanders. I have attempted to sketch 
the progress of their civihzation, and to show the nature 
of the conflict which they were waging against the 
mightiest power on the globe. It is now time to direct 
our eyes across the Channel, and to inquire into the con- 
dition of England and her people when these Puritans 
of Holland, fighting for civil and religious liberty, were 
to broaden the field of conflict by taking in their neigh- 
bors. To this subject, therefore, the attention of the 
reader is invited. Following the method adopted with 
relation to the ISTetherlands, I shall first discuss the in- 
fluences which made the England of this age, and shall 
then, in subsequent chapters, treat somewhat in detail of 
domestic life and manners, industrial pursuits, private 
and public morals, education, religion, the organization 
of society, the administration of justice, and such other 
matters as historians, until recently, have usually ignored. 
"Wars and political intrigues, although important in their 
way, will here find no more space than is necessary to 
elucidate their effects on the civilization of the people. 

The materials for this description are ample enough, 
and yet every writer who attempts to tell the truth 
about the Elizabethan age must approach the subject 
with some diffidence. In the first place, it is no easy 
task to reproduce, although imperfectly, the features of 


a country or of a people as they appeared three centu- 
ries ago, and this difficulty is very much increased when 
the country is one whose modern aspect is so familiar to 
the reader. It is somewhat like describing the youthful 
beauty of an old, wrinkled grandmother. Persons who 
have never seen her may imagine how she looked when 
in her teens, but you cannot persuade her little grand- 
children that she ever danced, romped, or went around 
without glasses and false hair. 

In the case of England there is a further difficulty. 
Scarcely any old country of modern times has been al- 
tered so much in its outward appearance in the last 
three centuries, and probably no people of any age have 
changed so greatly, in some respects, as the English have 
done in the same space of time. The change has been 
brought about by the influences of commerce, manufact- 
ures, and scientific agriculture, all three of which pur- 
suits were almost unknown to the subjects of Elizabeth. 
The modern Englishman is familiar to us, and, because 
we know him so well, we find it almost impossible to 
picture his ancestors before their devotion to modern 

The final and main difficulty, in the present case, lies 
in the false glamour thrown around this particular age 
by the poet, novehst, and so-called historian (made up of 
the other two in varying proportions), all of whom are 
carried away by a very natural enthusiasm over the 
many-sided display of energy and the marvellous power 
of assimilation which characterized this period. These 
writers, to describe the magnificence of Elizabeth's court, 
tell of her three thousand gowns and numberless jewels ; 
they say little of her council chamber, with its carpet of 
hay or rushes, of her eating with her fingers, and of the 
practices by which her jewels were obtained. They tell 


how, on one occasion, she made an address in Greek, but 
refer hghtly to the fact that among her nobles were men 
who could not read a line of English. They never tire 
of describing the virtues of Sir Philip Sidney, but do not 
always note the depth of the gulf which divided him 
from most of the other men about the court. They 
glory in the piracy of Drake, Hawkins, Frobisher, and 
their associates — piracy which all the rest of the Avorld 
then denourfced, and which, if repeated now, England 
would be the first to extirpate. They cite the names of 
a few scholars to show how learning flourished in this 
age, forgetful of the multitude of scholars much more 
advanced ujDon the Continent ; and then point to Spenser, 
Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, and a host of others, and ask 
what more could be desired of an age which produced 
such poets. 

In answer to all this, the historian can only give the 
facts ; but they are gathered from many quarters, all 
confirming each other, and established by unquestion- 
able witnesses. These facts show that, in the age of 
Elizabeth, England, as to most features of general civili- 
zation, bore about the same relation to the JSTetherlands 
that Russia bears to-day to Western Europe, or that the 
states of Central America bear to Massachusetts. This 
is a great pivotal truth in American and English history, 
although one which is often overlooked. Keeping it in 
mind, it is an easy matter to understand how the Eng- 
lish Puritans who subsequently emigrated to America 
developed when brought into contact with the Holland- 
ers, while we can also see why their progress was so 
much arrested. As for those who remained at home, the 
question will perhaps appear of no less importance when 
we come to see how they were affected by their neigh- 
bors across the Channel. 


The chief obstacle to vieAving the EUzabethan age in 
its true liglit unquestionably consists of its literature, 
the most brilliant of modern times. It is very difficult 
for one to realize, at first, that an age could be in many 
respects but semi-civilized which produced such poets 
as Shakespeare, Spenser, and Ben Jonson, and such a 
thinker as Francis Bacon. Still, this difficulty arises 
simply from overlooking the character of the contribu- 
tions which these men of genius furnished to the treas- 
ures of the world. A little reflection will serve to clear 
the vision. 

Civilization is a fruit of very slow growth. Poetry 
does not make it, nor are great poets even a sign of its 
existence. Looking at the two masterpieces of tlie world 
which preceded the works of Shakespeare, we find one 
produced in Greece, in an age so early, and among a 
people so rude, that the very personality of Homer has 
been seriously questioned ; while the other was pro- 
duced in Italy long before the revival of learning.* In 
fact, the dissemination of knowledge, the settled condi- 
tion of society, the respect for the rights of others, and 
the general unpicturesqueness, which distinguish a civ- 
ilized from a barbaric age, are not favorable to the pro- 
duction of great poets. 

The true poet is a seer ; one who sees, and not one 
who reasons. Untrammelled by theory, unembarrassed 
by the thoughts of others, he notes down what he ob- 
serves in nature, in his fellows, in himself. The period 
which produces such men in numbers is not a long one 
among nations making progress. Knowledge checks the 

* Dante was born 1265; the capture of Constantinople by the 
Turks, which gave the great impetus to the study of Greek litera- 
ture, and re-civilized the world, occurred in 1453. 


poetic faculty, by developing other faculties more prac- 
tical in their character. Men begin to study what they 
see, compare facts, test their observations by those of 
their fellows, and poetry passes into science. Rude na- 
tions always speak in figures. The North American In- 
dian describes an aged man as " an old tree dead at the 
top." His treaty with the whites is, he says, " a cove- 
nant chain, first of wampum, then of hemp, and finally 
of silver, thrown around a great rock." Little children 
prattle in the same fashion; the shadows play with them ; 
for them the stars bloom out at night ; and many a fond 
parent can trace the loss of a poet or a painter to the 
time when the spelling-book and arithmetic began to do 
their work.'-^ The poetry of the Elizabethan age grew 
out of the fact that a people who had slumbered for 
ages were awakening into intellectual life. 

The same causes which produced a Shakespeare also 
produced a Bacon. Each was a seer ; the one looked at 
men and nature with the eye of a poet, the other with 
the eye of a philosopher ; the one saw the passions, pa- 
thos, sentiment, and humor of life, the other its practi- 
cal, unromantic features. Men in England, before their 
time, saw but little; these great seers used their eyes 
and set down what they saw. Bacon's whole philoso- 
phy turns on the principle, that people shall see for 

* Macaulay, in his essay on Milton, says : " Poetry produces an 
illusion on the eye of the mind, as a magic lantern produces an illu- 
sion on the eye of the body ; and, as a magic lantern acts best in a 
dark room, poetry effects its jjurpose most completely in a dark age. 
. . . We think that as civilization advances, poetry almost necessarily 
declines." He therefore concludes that Milton was greater as a 
poet, not because of his learning, but in despite of it. For a fuller 
and much abler discussicm of tte subject, see Taine's "Snglisli Lit- 
erature," " Shakespeare." 


themselves, and reason from what they see and not from 
what they imagine or have been told by others. He 
marks an epoch in English thought, if England can be 
said to have had any thought before his time, but he 
simply told his countrymen to do what scientific men 
upon the Continent had done for generations. Still, 
with his transcendent genius he did this better than any 
one before his time, and hence his world-wide fame.* 

Bacon was not a learned man, knowing nothing of the 
discoveries of Kepler, Galileo, Harvey, or Gilbert. He had 
scarcely any knowledge of geometry ; in fact, was igno- 
rant of, and looked down on, all mathematics.f Harvey 
said of him that he wrote about science like a lord chan- 
cellor. In credulity he resembled his predecessor, Eoger 
Bacon. :|: He even rejected the theory of Copernicus, 
and died believing that the sun revolves around the 
earth. § As Hallam has pointed out, he was more emi- 
nently the philosopher of human than of general nat- 
ure.! This is the province of the poet and the seer. 

* Stewart's "Life of Reid," sec. 2; Hallam's "Literature of Eu- 
rope," iii. 133. 

t Hallam, iii. 127-129. " In mathematical, astronomical, and i^hys- 
ical knowledge he was far behind his contemporaries." — Humboldt's 
"Cosmos," iii. 106 (Loudon, 1851). 

I Hallam, i. 89. "His natural history is full of chimerical expla- 
nations. Like tlie poet, he peoples nature with instincts and de- 
sires; attributes to bodies an actual voracity; to the atmosphere a 
thirst for the light, sounds, odors, vapors, which it drinks in ; to met- 
als, a sort of haste to be incorjDorated with acids." — Taine. 

§ For an account of Bacon's ignorance of science, see also " Fran- 
cis Bacon," by Edwin A. Abbott (London, 1885), pp. 338, 455; Gar- 
diner's " History of England," iii. 394. As to his Latin, Abbott, p. 

II Hallam, iii. 127. His "Essays," therefore, gave him his greatest 
literary fame in England. 


Yet as a man of science he was far ahead of his time in 
Enoiand.* He translated the works on which he thought 
his fame was to rest into Latin, which he called the uni- 
versal language, although he knew it but imperfectly, 
affirming that " English would bankrupt all our books." 
" He had so^v n the great seed in a sluggish soil and an 
ungenial season. He had not expected an early crop, 
and in his last testament had solemnly bequeathed his 
fame to the next age."t 

As to the mode in which Shakespeare, as an author, 
was appreciated by his contemporaries in England, the 
following facts should be borne in mind. In 1623, Hem- 
minge and Condell published the first complete collection 
of his plays, only thirteen or fourteen of which had been 
printed in his lifetime. But for their efforts it is more 
than likely that his unpublished dramas, some seventeen 
in number — among which were " Julius Csesar," " The 
Tempest," and " Macbeth " — would have been lost to the 
world.:}: Only one other edition appeared prior to 1664, 
50 that in forty-eight j'-ears after his death but two edi- 
tions of his works, probably not making together a thou- 
sand copies, were given to a public which absorbed sev- 
enteen editions of Sidney's dreary " Arcadia." § There 
is no evidence that he was known to Ealeigh, Sidney, 
Spenser, Bacon, Cecil, Walsingham, Coke, Hooker, Cam- 
den, Hobbes, Donne, Cotton, or any others, except a few 

* We should except Gilbert, Hariott, and Harvey, with Napier in 
Scotland, all of whom, however, had prosecuted their studies abroad. 
Abbott, p. 338. 

t jMacaulay's " History of England," i. 377. 

I Shakespeare does not mention his manuscripts in his will, and 
seems to have cared nothing for literary reputation. His sole ambi- 
tion was to take rank as a country gentleman. 

§ Johnson's " Life of Milton ;" Symonds's " Sidney," p. 74. 


of his fellow-craftsmen.* With the decay of English 
energy, after the restoration of the Stuarts, he was al- 
most entirely forgotten. f In 170 Y, a poet named Tate 
produced a work called " King Lear," the subject of 
w^hich, he said, he had borrowed from an obscure piece 
of the same name, recommended to his notice by a friend. 
This " obscure piece " was Shakespeare's " King Lear." 
At the beginning of the eighteenth century Lord Shaftes- 
bury complained of his "natural rudeness, his unpolished 
style, and his antiquated phrase and wit." In conse- 
quence, he was excluded from several collections of the 
modern poets. In 1T65, Johnson gave him some praise, 
and finally Garrick, the grandson of a Huguenot refu- 
gee, restored him to the stage and to the patriotic admi- 
ration of the English people.:j: Since that time German 
criticism has done much to give him his present high 

Bacon, as a scientist, did not fare much better in Eng- 
land than did Shakespeare as a poet. Upon the Conti- 
nent, where there were men of learning, his works met 
with a cordial reception. The Latin treatise " De Aug- 
mentis " was republished in France in 1624, the year 
after its appearance in England, and was translated into 
French as early as 1632. Editions came out in Holland 
in 1645, 1652, and 1662, and one in Strasburg even ear- 

* R. G. White's " Shakespeare," p. 185. 

t Sir William Davenant, poet-laureate to Charles II., reproduced 
some of Shakespeare's plays, but only after a rewriting -which worked 
a transformation. "Macbeth," for example, was put on the stage, 
" with alterations, additions, amendments, new songs, machinery for 
the witches, with dancing and singing." As rewritten, it was pub- 
lished in 1673. " Tlie Interregnum," by F. A. Inderwick, p. 265. 

I Guizot's " Shakespeare," p. 122. In the " Vicar of Wakefield," Gold- 
smith shows how little he thought of the Shakespearian revival. 


Her, in 1635. In England, only one edition in Latin ap- 
peared after the first — namely, in 1638 — followed by an 
indifferent translation in 1640. The "ITovum Orffa- 
num " Avas thrice printed in Holland, in 1645, 1650, and 
1660. In England it never came separately from the 
press. King James said of it, "that it was like the 
peace of God, which passeth all understanding." 'No edi- 
tion of his works as a whole was published in England 
before 1730, but one appeared at Frankfort in 1665.* 

In studying the great literary lights of the Elizabethan 
age, one may recall his experience in witnessing a sun- 
rise in the Alps. He rises hastily, throws on his clothes, 
and takes his stand. Looking far away, the clouds and 
distant peaks are first tinged with pink, then bathed in 
glory. Down creeps the golden flame, the lofty trees 
are all on fire, and even the shrubs are priceless coral. 
So the transformation scene goes on, until the lowest 
valleys are resurrected from their darkness. Eapt in the 
contemplation of a miracle, one forgets how early is the 
morning. But when the day has fairly broken, when 
the pink and gold have disappeared, and all the land- 
scape lies in common sunlight, the traveller feels the 
chill, and, retiring to his blankets, waits for warmth and 
comfort until the sun has travelled farther on its course. 
What the sunrise is to noon, what the first crop upon 
the prairie is to the fruit of scientific agriculture, that is 
poetry to civilization.f 

* Hallam's "Literature of Europe," iii. 131, 132. 

t Perhaps no one has discussed this subject more ably and inci- 
sively than Matthew Arnold. " Genius is mainly an affair of energy," 
he says, " and poetry is mainly an affair of genius ; therefore, a nation 
whose spirit is characterized by energy may well be eminent in 
poetry, . . . and we have Shakespeare." Again : " We have con- 


To understand the English people of the time of Eliz- 
abeth, we must know something of their antecedents ; 
for, like all other nations, they were an evolution from 
the past, shaped by race and natural environment. Here, 
therefore, I shall ask the reader's patience while I call 
attention to some facts in their prior history which seem 
to me to bear a construction rather different from that 
usually placed upon them. This history has very pecul- 
iar features, in the disregard of which we can find the 
explanation of many popular misconceptions as to the 
Elizabethan age, and as to the origin and character of 
the new life which that age developed. 

Taking any point in civilization, one is apt to think of 
the approach to it as if it were a gradual ascent. This 
has been the case in the history of the ISTetherlands, in 
the brief story of America — with but a slight exception 
in ISTew England after the death of the first Puritan 
settlers — and it was true of classic Greece and Rome, 
until the period of their decline. Our school histories of 
England sometimes leave the impression that such was 
the course of progress there ; certain important events 
and certain leading characters stand out upon the record, 

fesseclly a very great literature. It still remains to be asked : " ' What 
sort of a great literature ? A literature great in the special qual- 
ities of genius, or great in the special qualities of intelligence ?' '* 
He answers the question by showing that the literature of genius, 
" stretching from IMarlow to Milton," led up to " our provincial and 
second-hand literature of the eighteenth century." The energy had 
died out. When it appeared again in the days of the ISTapoleonic 
wars, the literature of genius also reappeared. On the otiier hand, 
France had a literature of intelligence developed in prose, which led 
up to " the French literature of the eighteenth century — one of the 
most powerful and persuasive intellectual agencies that have ever ex- 
isted, the greatest European force of the eighteenth century." — "The 
Literary Influence of Academies," " Essays in Criticism," pp. 47-50. 


•and we are left to think of them as landmarks on a 
highway, instead of mere beacon lights flashing from 
isolated mountain-peaks. For example, we have glow- 
ing descriptions of civilization in Britain under the Ro- 
man rule. As to Anglo-Saxon times, we are told of the 
" Yenerable Bede," and his famous school at J arrow ; 
of Alcuin, John Scotus, the learned King Alfred, and his 
establishment of Oxford University — the last, however, 
a myth. Under the JSTormans, we hear of the superb 
cathedrals, Oxford with its thirty thousand students — 
another myth ; Magna Charta, and the learning of 
Roger Bacon. Still later on, we read of the poetry of 
Chaucer, hear of Wyclif and his Bible, Sir Thomas More 
and the Oxford Reformers, and finally of the glorious 
age of Elizabeth, with its world-renowned poets, states- 
men, and men of action. 

Glancing simply from one of these events or individ- 
uals to another, or even following the panegyrists of 
the English Constitution, one might imagine a people 
steadily rising in civilization until they had reached their 
present stage of development. But in this respect the 
experience of England is almost unique in the history of 
nations. To follow her career is not to ascend the side 
of a single mountain, but to cross a series of mountain 
chains separated by valleys nearly as deep and dark as 
that from which one makes the first ascent. Comparing 
it to a stream, it resembles a river flowing through a 
prairie country, Avhich twists and curves, returning on 
its track, so that after following it for scores of miles 
the traveller finds himself no nearer to the sea. 

The truth of this statement will be seen by any one 
who runs over the course of Enghsh history prior to the 
Reformation. Why it should be so is the important 
question. Why should a people, living on an island by 


themselves, be subject to great tidal AYaves of progress ? 
And why did the receding wave bring them back and 
leave them stranded on the shore ? 

There is a tendency among some English historians 
to represent the Englishman as of almost pure Anglo- 
Saxon blood, and to trace his progress to an Anglo- 
Saxon influence.* If this were so, we might expect 
that steady and gradual advance in civilization the ab- 
sence of which is so marked a feature of English history. 
Just the reverse appears to be the truth, and here is the 
key to many perplexing problems. 

The people, to be sure, are mostly of Anglo-Saxon 
origin, and this has given them their sturdy character ; 
but they have received foreign accessions from time to 

* The great impetus in this direction has been given by German 
writers, who liave devoted more attention to the study of early Eng- 
lish history than the English themselves. See Gneist's "Hist, of the 
English Constitution," j9assi}?!., for an account of German books on 
English institutions. These writers, in addition to the fact that 
they sometimes use the microscope too much, are naturally inclined 
to magnify the Germanic influence, and have perhaps unduly affected 
their English disciples. In regard to Gneist's history, in particular, 
to which I shall refer frequently hereafter, another fact must be kept 
in mind. As he states in his preface, he is deeply interested in po- 
litical matters, and for years has been writing history for political 
purposes. Opposed to republics, he sees his ideal of a state in the 
former strong monarchy of England, holding it up to his country- 
men as a model of a government developed on Germanic lines. 
With such objects in view, the conclusions of a writer may well be 
questioned, however valuable his facts. Since these pages were 
written, an able Frenchman has published a little book on the 
"English Constitution," the preface to which contains some very ju- 
dicious remarks on the modern tendency to exaggerate the Anglo- 
Saxon element in the development of English institutions. " The 
English Constitution," by ]5mile Boutmy (translation, Macmillan 
& Co., 1891). 

I.— 18 


time, and to these accessions we can trace their waves 
of progress. Following back the institutions which are 
England's boast, such as her parliament, trial by jury, 
and her judicial system, we find them derived, not from 
the Anglo-Saxons, but from the Normans, who were 
French by domicile, and cosmopolitan by education. 
Looking carefully at the lives of the great men who 
stand out like beacon lights on her early historic page, 
we find them to have been moulded by a foreign in- 
fluence and taught by foreign masters. The most brill- 
iant epoch in her early history, that Avhich witnessed 
the erection of her cathedrals and the founding of her 
universities, was the one in which she was under a for- 
eign domination. When, finally, the ISTormans had been 
absorbed and the intimate connection with the Continent 
broken off, the foreign influence died out. Then, as 
the old rude Anglo-Saxon element regained the mastery 
the people very rapidly went down. About the time 
of Elizabeth they had reached their lowest depth, from 
which they emerged only when brought again into touch 
with the elder civilization of the Continent, especially 
that developed in the JSTetherland Eepublic. Let us now 
for our proof take a hasty review of this early history — 
a review which will perhaps prepare the way for a clearer 
appreciation of the mode in which these foreign influ- 
ences were exerted at a later day.* 

When we first hear of Britain, it was occupied by a 
people who had probably crossed the Channel from Gaul. 
They belonged to the great Celtic race, which, pouring 
out from Scythia in Asia, had swept over the whole of 

* In the following summary I shall refer mainly to modern Eng- 
lish or German writers, who will hardly he suspected of want of par- 
tiality for their ancestors or Germanic kindred. 


Northern and "Western Europe. Those who crossed to 
Britain were closely connected with the Belgse, whom 
Caesar found in the lower ISTetherlands. The early set- 
tlers were probably pressed north by new-comers, and so 
passed into Wales and Scotland, and thence across the 
narrow sea to Ireland.* 

First attacked by Caesar and his legions, the Britons 
were a century later conquered by the Eomans, and the 
whole lower portion of the island was held by the con- 
querors for about three centuries and a half. Macaulay, 
in his history, states that Britain " received only a faint 
tincture of Eoman arts and letters," but the results of 
investigations carried on since his time tell a very dif- 
ferent story.f The island was studded with peopled 
cities, and the open country dotted over with the luxu- 
rious mansions of the great land-owners, built of stone, 
and heated with furnaces. The ruins of some of these 
mansions have been discovered, which show what prog- 
ress had been made in art. " Every colonnade and pas- 
sage had its tessellated pavement ; marble statues stood 

* " The Pedigree of the English People," Thomas Nicholas (sec- 
ond edition, 1868), p. 48. 

t " The Roman civilization had been completely introduced, mil- 
itary roads had been constructed from one end of the country to the 
other, and vast works of public utility and ornament had been com- 
pleted. The bridges, gardens, baths, and villas of Rome had been 
reproduced in Britain, and all the pomp and luxury of the imperial 
court made familiar to our forefathers." — Nicholas, " Pedigree of the 
English People," p. 104. Says Palgrave : "The country was replete 
with the monuments of Roman magnificence ; Malmesbury appeals 
to those stately ruins which still remained in his time, the twelfth 
century, as testimonies of the favor which Britain had enjoyed ; the 
towns, the temples, the theatres, and the baths . . . excited the won- 
der and the admiration of the chronicler and the traveller." — Pal- 
grave, i. 333. 


out from their gayly painted walls ; while pictures of 
Orpheus and Pan gleamed from amid the fanciful scroll- 
work and fretwork of its mosaic floors." * Commerce, 
too, had arisen. The harvests became so abundant that 
Britain at times supplied the necessities of Gaul. Pot- 
teries were established, which turned out work of great 
artistic beauty.f Tin-mines were worked in Cornwall, 
lead-mines in Somerset and Northumberland, and iron- 
mines in the Forest of Dean.:}: In addition to all this, 
Home became Christianized, and conferred upon Britain 
her religion, as well as her arts, her military system, and 
her laws. British churches arose over all the land to 
take the place of the pagan temples ; or, as in other 
parts of Europe, the buildings erected to the divinities 
of ancient Rome were dedicated to the rites of the new 
national religion. 

Such, in faint outline, was the condition of Britain 
before the irruption of the barbarians whom we call 
Anglo-Saxons, and who transformed it into England. 
To the antiquarian, it must be a fascinating work to 
explore the old ruins, and unearth the unquestionable 
evidence of this former glory. But to the historian of 
England who seeks to trace the progress of her people, 
the growth of her institutions, and the development of 
the national character, all this story is unimportant, for 
every vestige of the former civilization was wiped out 
by the pagan conquerors. To the student of Continental 

* Green's "Making of England," chap. iii. etc. 

f The Roman pottery found in the New Forest, -where its manu- 
facture was extensively carried on, surpasses, artistically, anything 
since produced in England. " The New Forest," p. 325 (London, 
1880, John R.Wise). 

I Green, Introduction and chap. v. 


history, and. for our purposes, however, it is of great im- 
portance. Britain vv^as a very distant province. There 
was nothing in its situation, resources, or inhabitants 
which would entitle it to the special favor of Rome. If, 
therefore, it profited for a time so largely from the Eo- 
man domination, one can conceive what must have been 
the effect of this same influence upon the provinces near- 
er home, where, as we have seen in a former chapter, 
the Roman civilization was not extinguished.* 

Having climbed a mountain-top, we are now to de- 
scend into a valley as deep and dark as can be well im- 
agined. In 411 the Roman legions are recalled from 
Britain, in consequence of the irruption of the Goths un- 
der Alaric. Returning temporarily, they finally aban- 
don the country in 427, and the people are left to fight 
alone against their own enemies, the Picts and Scots. 
Powerless against such foes, they call to their aid the 
corsairs who had threatened their coast for generations. 
Hengist and Horsa, with their allies — Saxons, Angles, 
Jutes, and Frisians, all Low-Dutch tribes — repel the en- 
emy from the Korth, but conquer the island for them- 
selves, and give it the modern name of England. The 
process of conquest was a slow one, and this explains its 
character, for the Britons made a stout resistance, re- 
treating only step by step. Thus, a century and a half 
were needed for the work, but it was done with Anglo- 

* Speaking of Italy, Freeman says : " No vulgar error is more ut- 
terly groundless til an that which looks on the Goths and other Teuton- 
ic settlers as wilful destroyers of Roman buildings or of other works 
of Roman skill. Far from so doing, they admired, they preserved, 
and, so far as the decaying art of the time allowed, they imitated 
them." — " Origin of the English Nation," lecture of Jan. 5th, 1870, 
at Kingston-on-Hull, published in Macmillaii's Magazine. 


Saxon thoroughness. In the end, every vestige of the 
ancient civihzation was extinguished ; the towns were 
depopulated and laid waste ; the mines were closed for 
ages; the villas reduced to ruins; Christianity was blot- 
ted out, and the whole country made a desolation. The 
island was again a barbaric pagan land.'- 

English historians naturally dwell on the bright aspect 
of this conquest — the introduction of liberal institutions, 
the free barbaric blood, and the general love of freedom 
which animated the new-comers. But we must remem- 
ber that, in the growth of nations, we find at the bottom, 
as at the top, the idea of personal independence. When 
we compare the history of this people with that of the 
ISTetherlanders, who, although of the same blood, assimi- 
lated the civilization of ancient Kome, we can judge how 
much institutions can accomplish for society while it is 
passing through the intermediate stages. 

What manner of people these new-comers were can be 
gathered from various sources. To the Eomans, all the 
men who conquered Britain and founded England were 
known under the common name of Saxons, and the Ro- 
man provincials distinguished them from the other tribes 
who were attacking the empire by their thirst for blood 
and disregard for human suffering. While men noted 
in the Frank his want of faith, in the Alan his greed, in 
the Hun his shamelessness, what they noted in the Saxon 
was his savage cruelty. Dwelling upon the Continent, 
the main aim of their pirate raids was man-hunting, and 
it had with them a feature of peculiar horror. Before 
setting sail from the hostile country which they had at- 
tacked, their custom was to devote one man out of each 

* See " Lectures of Freeman," cited above, and Green's " Making 
of England." 


ten of their captives to a death by slow and painiul 
torture.* " Foes are they," sang a Roman poet of the 
time, "fierce beyond other foes, and cunning as they 
are fierce ; the sea is their school of war, and the storm 
their friend ; they are sea- wolves that live on the pillage 
of the world." f A century after their landing in Eng- 
land, the Britons knew them onl}^ as " barbarians," 
" wolves," " dogs," " whelps from the kennels of barba- 
rism," "hateful to God and man.":|: 

Transplanted into England, they did not change their 
nature. Having passed over the land like a tempest of 
fire, burned the churches, murdered the priests at the 
altar, and blotted out all civilization, they settled down 
to enjoyment. Divided into a large number of petty 
tribal kingdoms, domestic wars became innumerable.g 
For very many years their history is, as described by 
Milton, little more than the battles of kites and crows. H 
In time there come intervals of peace. The smaller 
tribes are swallowed by the larger ; little kingdoms ap- 
pear ; a rude form of law and order is established ; and, 
finally, early in the ninth century, Aegberht, who had 
been brought up at the court of Charlemagne, subdues 
the whole island south of the Humber, and the king- 
dom of the Anglo-Saxons first takes its place among the 
states of Europe.^" 

Meanwhile great social changes have affected the in- 

* Greeu's "History of the English People," vol. i. 

t Idem. I Idem, p. 48. 

§ Gneist, " History of the English Constitution" (trans. London, 
1886), i. 40. 

II The aim of life, says Taine, " was not to be slain, ransomed, mu- 
tilated, pillaged, hung, and, of course, if it were a woman, violated." 
— " English Literature." 

IT Gneist, i. 42. 


lierited freedom of the people. When the barbarians 
landed in Britain they were substantially free, for their 
rulers were elected by all the freemen. War and a set- 
tled residence beget the king.* By the time of Alfred, 
he had become the " Lord's Anointed," invested with a 
mysterious dignity.f Treason against him was punished 
with death, and he was the fountain of honor. The 
king, from among his comrades, created a new order of 
nobility, whose members gradually supplanted the old 
chiefs. Much of the land was in early days held in ^ 
common; it was now carved out into estates for the 
king's dependants. Thus the freedom of the peasant 
passed away. His freehold was surrendered to be re- 
ceived back as a fief, laden with services to its lord, for 
in Alfred's day it was assumed that no man could exist 
without a lord. 

Gradually, as the kingdoms increased in size, the share 
of the freemen in all public affairs was greatly dimin- 
ished. There was no election of delegates to national 
or local assemblies, as in later times ; each man had to 
appear and vote in person. Theoretically, there was a 
great assembly of the people, in which resided all ulti- 
mate authority — the higher justice, imposition of taxes, 
framing of laws, the conclusion of treaties, the division 
of the public lands, and the appointment of the chief of- 
fices of state. " Practically, the national council shrank 
into a gathering of the great officers of Church and State 
with the royal thegns, and the old English democracy 

* Kingship appears among the English at a time when it was un- 
known among the Continental races to whom thej' were most closely 
related. Gneist, i. 14. 

t Alfred, wlien a boy, went to Rome, and was anointed by the 
pope. Ranke's "History of England," 1. 20. Other kings had been 
anointed, however, before his time. 


passed into an oligarchy of the closest kind."* These 
people are simply entering upon the first stage of civili- 

The wars and a settled residence also gave a great im- 
petus to slavery. No rank saved the prisoner taken in 
battle from this doom ; and the markets of the world, as 
far as Kome, were filled with slaves from England. Debt 
and crime also swelled the ranks of the unfree. Fathers 
sold their children, husbands their wives. The master 
could slay his chattel ; it was only the loss of a thing. 
Fleeing from bondage, he might be chased as a strayed 
beast, and flogged to death if a man, or burned if a wom- 
an.f The progress of Christianity produced a little ame- 
lioration of his state. One bishop denied Christian bur- 
ial to kidnappers, and prohibited the sale of children by 
their parents after the age of seven. Another punished 
Avith excommunication the sale of child or kinsfolk. 
Many owners manumitted their slaves, and the slave- 
trade from English ports was finally, in the tenth centu- 
ry, prohibited by law. This prohibition, however, for a 
long time remained inefi'ective. Until the Conquest the 
wealth of English nobles was said sometimes to spring 
from breeding slaves for market. It was not until the 
reign of the first ]S[orman king that the trafiic was finally 

Across this dark and dreary waste we can here and 
there catch glimpses of sunshine, although fitful and 
evanescent. A young deacon named Gregory sees in 
Eome some English slaves exposed for sale. He be- 
comes interested in the far-distant island, whose people 

* Green's " Short H-istory," pp. 89, 90, 91. Gneist, i. 101-108. 

t Green, p. 50. 

I Idem, p. 89. " Life of Bishop Wolstan," cited by Taine. 


once were servants of the Church, and when elected 
pope sends Augustine Avith forty comrades to effect its 
reconversion. One of the petty kings has married a 
Christian from France, and this helps on the work. 
Augustine arrives in 597, but in the end actuall}^ ac- 
complished little. The real conversion of England came 
from Ireland, where Christianity had not been blotted 
out by the Saxons, and where piety and learning had 
fixed their home.'"* Naturally the conversion of the 
masses did not at first go very deep. They became 
Christians after the type of Clovis across the Channel, 
who, having witnessed the Passion Play, cries out, 
"Why was I not there with my Franks?" As we see 
through all their literature, the gospel of love, the teach- 
ings of the ISTew Testament, made no more impression 
on their minds than on those of their descendants of the 
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, to whom the Bible 
came again as a revelation. They were all equally at- 
tracted more by the Old Testament, with its wars, mas- 
sacres, and tales of blood and vengeance. 

Still, the very fact of belonging to the Church of the 
world had its effect ; it brought the island into contact 
with the old civilization of the Continent, and the con- 
nection bore some fruit.f In 668, a Greek monk, Theo- 
dore of Tarsus, arrives from Kome, is made Archbishop 
of Canterbury, and the English Church of to-day, so far 

* Green's " Sliort History," p. 58. In the times of Tacitus the ports 
and harbors of Ireland were better known to the Romans than tliose 
of Britain, from the concourse of merchants there for purposes of 
trade. "Life of Agricola," sec. 24. 

t Gneist pays a high tribute to the Anglo-Saxon Church for its early 
work, while showing how, in later days, it fell into rudeness and sen- 
suality, i. 85-87, note. Before the Norman Conquest it had acquired 
about one third of the property of the kingdom, p. 110. 


as its outer form is concerned, becomes the work of his 
hands.* A school is established, which the Venerable 
Bede attends, where he learns Greek, for the first time 
tauD'ht in Eng'land, and with it imbibes a taste for sci- 
ence and letters. Bede passes his life at the monastery 
of Jarrow, gathers six hundred pupils about him, be- 
comes, as Burke calls him, " the father of English liter- 
ature," and dies in Y55, translating the Gospel of St. 
John into the vernacular. But upon his death the king- 
dom of Northumbria, in which he lived, is desolated by 
incessant wars, the land is laid waste, his scholars are 
dispersed, and nothing is left of his work but the forty- 
five volumes which attest his industry, and a name which 
glorifies his age.f 

Later on, in 800, just as the English are becoming one 
nation,:]: the Danes come in, as utterly heathen and as 
savage and ferocious as the followers of Hengist and 
Horsa. They at once wipe out almost all of civilization 
above the Thames.§ In about seventy years they be- 
come masters of the land.|| Then King Alfred appears 
on the scene, a man who, seen through the dim mist of 
tradition, is one of the world's heroes. He roused the 
people against the Danes, founded a kingdom in the 
lower part of the island, established peace in his realm, 
reduced the laws to system, and became the teacher of 
his people.Tf Alfred did all that he could to correct and 

* Green's " Short History," p. 65. t Idem, p. 74, 

I Gneist, i. 43. 

§.Eanke, i. 17 ; Green's " Short History," pp. 78., 79, 83. 

II Gneist, i. 105. 

IT Ranke, the great German historian, pays this tribute to Bede 
and Alfred. "Tlie first German who made the universal learning 
derived from antiquity his own was an Anglo-Saxon, the Venerable 


inform the ignorance of his countrymen, to which they 
had been reduced by the Danish conquest. When he 
began to reign, lie could find scarcely a priest in the 
kingdom able to render the Latin service into English. 
For the benefit of the common people he translated sev- 
eral Latin works, with annotations which sound of the 
primer. He established schools at court, where the sons 
of the nobility were instructed in the rudiments of learn- 
ing ; and, taking an idea from Roman jurisprudence, he 
codified the laws, prefacing them, after the Puritan fash- 
ion, with the Ten Commandments and a portion of the 
law of Moses. 

Alfred dies, and under one of his successors the 
Danish portions of the country are brought into com- 
plete subjection.* Then follow a few years of peace 
and national prosperity. But again civil war breaks 
out, and the heathen Danes reappear in new and greater 
hordes. They march through the land amid the light 
of blazing towns and homesteads, and in the end put 
their own ruler on the throne.f Cnut proves a wise 
and beneficent monarch, and for twenty years gives the 
country peace. But he dies in 1035, and under his ty- 
rannical and incapable successors there ensues a reign 
of blood, which prepares the way for the coming of a 
greater conqueror than the Dane. 

And now what was the condition of the Anglo-Saxons 
after a residence of six centuries in England ? 

In some important particulars, as we have seen, they 
certainly had retrograded. The old idea of personal 
freedom had largely disappeared. The land now, in- 

Bede ; the first German dialect in ^'hich men -wrote history and drew 
up laws was likewise the Anglo-Saxon." — Ranke, i. 13. 

* Aethelstan, 924-941. t Green, p. 91. 


stead of being the domain of freemen, had become the 
home of nobles and their retainers, beneath whom was 
a race of serfs.* Still, many of the early ideas pre- 
vailed among the body of the people, to come to ma- 
turity at a later day. Aside from their passion for war- 
fare, and their drunkenness — to which latter vice they, 
li]-:e the JSTetherlanders, have always been addicted — the 
English were a moral race. If they had no respect for 
beauty, they loved truth. This, with courage and fidel- 
ity, they held in supreme honor. Dwelling apart, not 
sensuous, inclined to melancholy, taking his pleasure 
sadly, as Froissart afterwards said of him, the English- 
man built up the modern idea of home and family, in 
which the wife is the presiding deity.f In the early days 
upon the Continent, she was her husband's companion 
in his wanderings ; now that he had settled down to 
cultivate the soil, and had embraced Christianity, she 
became the manager of his household. The wife lived 
for her husband and children — a narrow, confined exist- 
ence perhaps, but one which will breed heroes.:}: 

* "The strength of the freedom of the common people, the self- 
respect, and the martial excellence of the Angle-Saxon ceorl dimin- 
ished from century to century, in spite of the guardian j^ower which 
the king wielded." — Gneist, 1. 108. As this writer has jjointed out, 
the chief outward survival of the past was the preservation of the 
old Germanic judicial system which still surrounded personal free- 
dom with protecting barriers (p. 113). As law was then adminis- 
tered this was not much, but it was something. 

t Gneist, p. 114. 

I Alfred thus describes her for his countrymen : " The wife now 
lives for thee — for thee alone. She has enough of all kind of wealth 
for the present life, but she scorns them all for thy sake alone. She 
has forsaken them all, because she has not thee with them. Thy ab- 
sence makes her think that all she possesses is naught. Thus, for 


Courage, fidelity, respect for truth, and love of home 
are great virtues, and in time will make the English the 
master race of the world ; but they are virtues, after all, 
which are found among barbaric tribes. We can trace 
their originals in the picture which Tacitus draws of the 
ancient Germans in their native wilds. Of civilization 
the people had but a tinge, and that was derived from 
Rome and Eoman Christianity, For the six centuries 
after the landing of Hengist and Horsa on the shores of 
Britain the history of England is almost a dead level, 
broken here and there by little hillocks, which seem to 
promise progress.* The progress, however, did not fol- 
low, for in the middle of the eleventh century only 
about a third of the soil is under cultivation, and that of 
the rudest kind ; the old Eoman influence is gone for- 
ever ; the new Eomish churches and abbeys have been 
largely demolished; the great scholars are dead, the 
schools dispersed, and learning well-nigh extinguished. 
The one great result which has been accomplished for 
the future in all these years, apart from the introduc- 
tion of a rude form of Christianity, is the substantial 
consolidation into one people of the heterogeneous mass 
of the early conquerors.f 

love of thee she is wasted awajf, and lives uear death from tears and 
grief." — Quoted by Taine, " English Literature." 

* The chief eminence appears in the eighth century, wlien the 
kingdom of Northumbria had its famous schools at York and Jar- 
rov?, and was the intellectual centre of Western Christian Europe. 
Green, p. 72. But this period was brief. 

t The English system was strong in the cohesion of its lower or- 
ganism — the association of individuals in the township, in the hun- 
dred, and in the shire. On this better-consolidated substructure 
was superimposed the better-consolidated Norman superstructure. 
Stubbs, i. 278. 


We are still in a very dark valley, but before us at 
length rises a lofty, brilliant mountain ; it is the Norman 
Conquest, which, bringing with it for a time the civ- 
ilization of the Continent, becomes the most imjDortant 
event in English history.* 

The jSTormans proper were descended from the ISTorth- 
men, or Scandinavians, who founded the kingdoms of 
Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. They have been called 
pirates, and such they were ; but they were of a very 
different type from the early Saxons or the vulgar pi- 
rates of a later day. Their corsairs were, in fact, the 
merchants of the North, combining, according to the 
custom of the times, commerce with pirac}^ That they 
should have made such rapid development after they 
settled in France, formerly seemed something like a 
miracle, but the miraculous element is rapidly passing 
out of history. In this case, recent investigations show 
that long before the Normans left their Northern home 
they, too, had been brought into contact with the great 
reservoirs of civilization to which modern Europe owes 
so much. Sailing up the Dwina and the Oder, and then 
down the Yolga and the Dnieper, they had for ages 
been in communication with Constantinople and the re- 
gions about the Black Sea and the Caspian. Thence 
they had brought back spices, pearls, silks, and linen 
garments. All this may seem strange enough to those 
w^io have been accustomed to regard the country about 
the Baltic as an unexplored wilderness of barbarism 
until a recent date. But it must be remembered that 
until about the tenth century the only communication 

* " The will of destiny cannot be gainsaid. Just as Germany, with- 
out its connection with Italy, so England, without its connection 
with France, would never have been what it is." — Ranke, i. 38. 


between the Mediterranean and Northern Europe was 
by inland routes. It is possible that even the frozen 
ISTorth benehted more from this communication than 
England under its Anglo-Saxon rulers.* 

Leaving their Northern homes, these merchant corsairs 
had ravaged the coast of Europe as far as Spain, had 
plundered many cities, including Paris, and had made 
their name terrible even in Italy itself. In 911, Charles 
the Simple of France locates a band of them on French 
soil, in a district afterwards known as Normandy, think- 
ing thereby to purchase their allegiance. The scheme 
proved a marked success. Rolf, or Hollo, the pirate 
chief, receives baptism, takes the title of duke, and be- 
comes a loyal servant of his king. It was by Norman 

* Upon the island of Gothland, in the Baltic, have been found 
great numbers of Roman and Byzantine coins, and its surface is 
dotted over with the ruins of ancient buildings, many of them of 
great size and architectural beauty. Canon Adam, of Bremen, a 
chronicler of the eleventh century, tells of a trading city at the 
mouth of the Oder, " a town rich in the wares of all Eastern people, 
and which contains much that is charming and precious." — " The 
Hansa Towns," by Zimmern, p. 23. Tlie towns of tlie Hanseatic 
League derived their wealth from trade Avith the Baltic. It is a cu- 
rious fact that so early as the tenth century German traders deal- 
ino- with England paid part of their tribute in jiepper, a product 
peculiar to the East. Idem, p. 16. Some writers have traced a con- 
nection between the Venetians of the Adriatic and the Vends or 
Venedes of the Baltic. Idem, p. 23. See also, as to this whole 
subject, "The Viking Age," by Paul Da Clmillu, especially vol. i. 
chap. XV. pp. 262 and 276; also vol. ii. p. 219. When the Eng- 
lish opened a trade with Russia, in the days of Elizabeth, they at- 
tempted one trip to Persia by the old route of the Northmen, up the 
Dwina, down the Volga, and across the Caspian Sea. Camden, p. 
418. This voyage, which, I believe, has never been noticed by later 
historians, shows that the route was known even five hundred years 
after the Norman Conquest. 


help, later on, that France was raised to the rank of an 
independent kingdom ; and Hugh Capet, instead of being 
a vassal of kings of German lineage, became the father 
of French sovereigns." 

For over a century and a half these Northmen had 
been settled on the soil of France, intermarrying with 
the natives, imbibing the ancient civilization, and, with 
the aptness for culture which marks a mixed race, mak- 
ing even more rapid progress than the French them- 
selves. As a Teutonic people, they were perhaps re- 
motely related to the Anglo-Saxons, but they bore little 
resemblance to their distant kinsmen whom they found 
in England. "William of Malmesbury, the old chroni- 
cler, says : " The Saxons vied with each other in their 
drinking feasts, and wasted their goods by day and night 
in feasting, while they lived in wretched hovels ; the 
French and ISTormans, on the other hand, lived inex- 
pensively in their fine large houses, were besides studi- 
ously refined in their food, and careful in their habits." 

These, then, are the men who, in 1066, to the number 
of sixty thousand, about one third ISTormans and the rest 
made up of other nationalities, land at Hastings, conquer 
England w^th its two millions of inhabitants, and make 
it for centuries a French country. The conquest was an 
easy one. The Frenchmen, for so we may call them all, 
were trained warriors, fighting on horseback, with long 
steel -pointed lances, and clad in complete armor. The 
English fought on foot ; some in armor wielded heavy 
battle-axes, but the mass of the army Avas composed of 
rude peasants carrying scythes, clubs, and sharpened 
poles. The heavy but swift -moving cavalry gave the 
victory to the foreigners. 

* Fisher's " Outlines of Universal History," p. 247. 
I.— 19 


It took but a few years under the rule of the con- 
querors to change the face of England. The land was 
registered in Domesday - book, and, to a large extent, 
parcelled out among the retainers of the Norman king. 
Each new proprietor set out at once to build a castle 
for his own protection, and to overawe his neighbors. 
Even the stone of which these castles were constructed 
was brought from Caen, in France.* At the death of 
King Stephen, a century later, eleven hundred and fif- 
teen of these fortresses dot the surface of the island. 
Within the castle, at court, in the halls of justice, and 
even in the church, the inmates are foreigners and the 
speech is French.f In the schools, pupils were in time 
forbidden to speak English. Later on, in the universi- 
ties, the students were required by statute to converse 
in Latin or French.:]: In the thirteenth century laws 
are written and judicial proceedings are aU carried on 
in French. For nearly three hundred years the English 
language almost disappears among the upper classes, 
and, looking only at the surface, it seems forgotten. It 
continued mainly, if not solely, among the small proprie- 
tors, the tradesmen of the towns, the peasants, and the 

But the Kormans did much more than to build castles 
and introduce a foreign speech and literature. The con- 
quest was made in one of the great ages of history — an 
age which was not to be paralleled until the days of the 
Kenaissance. It had been predicted, for so the clergy read 

* Ranke, i. 35. 

t William the Conqueror, it is said, attempted to learn English, 
but gave up the task in despair. 
X Regulation of Oriel College, 1328. 
§ Hallam; Green; Freeman in The Chautauquan, March, 1891. 


the Book of Revelation, that the year 1000 was to witness 
the destruction of all things terrestrial, and during the 
preceding century the world came to a standstill, await- 
ing the dread event. Within three years after the close 
of the century, when it was discovered that the predic- 
tion was unfounded, men awoke to a ne^v life. Archi- 
tecture felt the first impulse, and churches were renewed 
in every part of Europe, especially in Italy and France. 
Then were formed the first associations of builders, es- 
sentially composed of men bound by a religious vow, who 
cultivated the art in convents and monasteries.* The 
Frenchmen loved art. Already in the seventh century 
they had sent to England some of their "masters in 
stone." t ISTow, under the ISTormans and their successors, 
they proceeded to cover the island with superb cathe- 
drals, which, inferior only to those in France itself, bear 
witness, not alone to the architectural skill, but to the 
spirit of devotion which animated the builders. Later 
on came the Crusades, in which the l^ormans played so 
great a part, and which brought Europe into contact 
with the civilization of the Saracens and Jews, develop- 
ing a love of learning little known before in Western 

From the time of the subversion of the Roman Empire 
by the barbarians, the cultivation of letters had been car- 
ried on exclusively in the monasteries, and in the chapels 
of cathedral churches. Now a new spirit was abroad. 
The communes achieved their independence in France 
and Italy ; and, at the same time, the new life given to 
the study of Roman law, and the development of scho- 

* " The Arts in the Middle Ages," by Paul Lacroix (translated, 
London, 1870), pp. 377, 378. 
t Idem, p. 356. 


lasticism in the Is^orth of France, united at Bologna and 
Paris a numerous body of teachers and scholars, who 
were organized in the twelfth century into the corpora- 
tions known as universities, upon the model of those long 
before established by the Moors in Spain.* First in 
JSTorthern Europe arose the University of Paris, which 
grew out of the teachings of Abelard from 1103 to about 
1136. t Here, as elsewhere, the ISTormans were apt pupils. 
Between the Conquest and the death of King John, they 
established five hundred and fifty-seven schools in Eng- 
land.;]: Among these institutions were the two renowned 
universities which have contributed so much to the glory 
of English learning. 

The early historians of England carried back the foun- 
dation of Oxford to the days of King Alfred, but that 
myth is now abandoned. It appears from the records 
that nothing is known of any school or so-called uni- 
versity at Oxford until the year 1133, when a teacher 
from Paris, Eobert Pullus, began to lecture there on the 
Bible. He taught for five years, and then went to Kome. 
A few years after his departure, Yacarius, an Italian, ap- 
peared in England and began a series of lectures at Ox- 
ford on the Civil Law, which he had studied at Bologna. 
In 1149, he made a careful abstract for English students 

* Abelard, it is claimed, was educated at the Moorish university 
in Cordova. 

t See for an interesting history of this university and its influence 
on France, "De I'Organization de I'Euseignement dans I'Universite 
de Paris," par Charles Thurot, Paris. 

J Taiue's "English Literature," ]). 61. Before the Conquest, they 
had founded at Bee, in Normandy, " the most famous school ot 
Christendom." — Green. From this school came the first two Nor- 
man Archbishops of Canterbury, the great scholars Lanfranc and 
Anselm; both, however, Italians. 


of the Code and Digest of Justinian. King Stephen, be- 
coming alarmed at the threatened innovation, ordered 
the lectures to be discontinued, and forbad^ Englishmen 
to own any treatise on foreign law. But all repressive 
measures proved ineffective. Yacarius remained in Eng- 
land, and before long the Civil Law became one of the 
recognized studies at the university.''^ Here, then, we see 
another link binding England to the civilization of the 

In the history of learning in England, much as it 
owed to Rome, we should not forget its debt to the 
Jews, the men who, with the Saracens, did so much in 
carrying the torch of science and letters through the 
darkness of the Middle Ages.:j; Here again the JSTor- 

* Lyte's "History of the Ijniversity of Oxford," 1886, p. 11. 

t General statements liave sometimes been made in relation to the 
state of education in England during the time of the Normans, which 
the modern reader is accustomed to receive with a smile of incredu- 
lity. But as the subject is investigated the smile will probably die 
away, and the investigator will begin to realize how rapidly England 
went down after the disappearance of the men who built her cathe- 
drals and founded her universities and schools. See "Village Life 
Six Centuries Ago," in " The Coming of the Friars and other His- 
torical Essays," by the Rev. Augustus Jessopp (G. P. Putnam's 
Sons, 1889). A fuller reference will be made to this essay in the 
next chapter, when I describe the state of education under Eliza- 
beth. It is interesting, in this connection, to compare the English 
descriptions of Richard I. with those given of him by modern French 
investigators. The picture of the "Lion-hearted" king drawn by 
most English writers leaves the impression of a coarse, ignorant sol- 
dier, whose distinguishing traits were physical strength and brute 
courage. Viollet-Leduc, in his "Dicticmnaire Raisonne de I'Archi- 
tecture Fran9aise du XPau XVP Sifecle" (Paris, 1868), describes him 
as a man of genius and " an engineer full of resources, experienced, 
foreseeing, capable of leading his age " (iii. 82). 

I See Drapers " Intellectual Development of Europe." 


mans, in their protection of this people, are entitled to 
great honor for their worldly wisdom, if for nothing- 
more. "When William the Conqueror established him- 
self in England, a number of wealthy Jews followed 
him from Normandy. He settled them in the principal 
towns, giving them a section, called the "Jewry," to 
themselves ; and although they could not own land, and 
were in the eyes of the law but chattels of the king, yet 
they were allowed to build synagogues, and their per- 
sons and property were fairly well protected for nearly 
two centuries — the centuries of England's greatness. It 
was with the money borrowed from them that the cas- 
tles and cathedrals Avere constructed, which sprang up 
over the island as if by magic* 

Connected as they were Avith the Jewish schools in 
Spain and the East, they opened up the way to the 
study of the physical sciences in England. They ap- 
pear to have founded a medical school at Oxford ; and 
it should never be forgotten that Roger Bacon, the first 
man of science that England ever produced, altliough 
he studied at Paris, was also a pupil of the Jewish rab- 

* How far they were superior to tlie people among whom they 
came to dwell is shown in the character of their domestic arcliitect- 
ure. "The buildings at Lincoln and St. Edmundsbury which still 
retain their title of 'Jews' Houses' were almost the first houses of 
stone -which superseded the mere hovels of the English burghers." 
— Green, "Short History," p. 115. At Oxford their stone structures 
were so numerous and substantial, and their advance in scientific 
knowledge so marked, that it is probably to tlieir presence, in some 
measure, that the university owed its existence. Each of the later 
town- halls of the borough of Oxford had been houses of Jews be- 
fore their expulsion by Edward I. " Nearly all the large dwelling- 
houses, in fact, which were subsequently converted into academic 
halls, Ijore traces of tlie same origin in names, such as Moysey's Hall, 
Lombard's Hall, or Jacob's Hall." — Green. 


bis. This scholar, who died in 1293, was unfortunately 
born too late. Had he lived earlier, he would have been 
appreciated by the keen-witted, knowledge-loving JSTor- 
mans. N'ow their influence was on the wane, and after 
forty years of incessant study he could say, like his great 
namesake, who came too early, that he found himself 
^' unheard, forgotten, buried." Euined and baffled in 
his hopes, he became a mendicant friar, and is said 
to have been imprisoned by his fraternity for writing 
his scientific works. On the other hand, Robert of Lor- 
raine, two centuries before, was made Bishop of Here- 
ford by William the Conqueror in consequence of his 
astronomical knowledge.* 

Returning now to the Kormans, we find that Eng- 
land's permanent debt to these foreigners is not con- 
fined to the building of cathedrals and the establishment 
of schools and universities. The cathedrals and univer- 
sities still stand as their monuments, but others remain 
not less striking. Ranke has well said that " nowhere 
have more of the institutions of the Middle Ages been 
retained than in England." f This is due to the firm 
imprint w^hich the conquerors made upon the country. 
They brought in, or at least firmly established, the feu- 
dal system, which took such deep root that its princi- 
ples have never been eradicated from English law. 
Thence is derived the doctrine of primogeniture, by 
some regarded as a blessing, by others as the blight 
of modern England. It was also under their rule 
that Ireland was first conquered, and as an English prov- 
ince became the plague spot of future generations. 
These are questionable legacies, but, on the other hand, 

* Whewell's " History of tlie Inductive Sciences." 
t " History of England," Preftice, p. vi. 


Henry II., the conqueror of Ireland, established the judi- 
cial system of England, much as it exists to-day.* The 
same reign witnessed the regular establishment of the 
system of " recognition by sworn inquest," from w^hich 
institution, probably a Norman importation, our mod- 
ern trial by jury is lineally descended. f It was also 
under the foreim kino;s that the towns received their 
charters, which, borrowed from the Continent, gave 
them, in theory, almost an independent existence.:}: 
Finally came Magna Charta, wrung from the last of 
the foreign kings by the united efforts of the English 
and the ISTormans, w^hich, however, did little more than 
to embody in w^ritten form an enumeration of rights 
and privileges claimed by Norman retainers under Nor- 
man dukes. 

Taking it all together, this forms a very brilliant 
chapter in the annals of the w^orld ; but it is not strictly 
English history — certainly the Anglo-Saxons have but 
a slight connection Avith it, except in helping to wrest 
Magna Charta from a king whose successors regularly 
violated its provisions. § As Macaulay has w^ell pointed 
out, II the Normans who accomplished such wonderful 
results w^ere Frenchmen transplanted into England, and 
Englishmen have little lot or share in the glory of their 
achievements. For four generations their kings were 

* Ranke, i. 38. 

t Taswell-Langmead's "Engl. Const. Hist.," pp. 160, IGl. 

X The towns like London, Norwich, etc., were filled with French 
and Flemish traders who followed in the wake of the Conqueror. 

§ Before the close of the Middle Ages the confirmation of Magna 
Charta was demanded and conceded no less than thirty-eight times. 
Gneist, i. 311. 

II " Hist, of England," i. 13, 14, 15. 


mostly born in France, and passed the larger portion of 
their time upon the Continent. It was only when King 
John was driven out of I^ormandy that English history 
can be said to begin again. 

Still, it should be borne in mind that even in this 
latter period the Norman influence continued long after 
the death of John and the separation of England from 
the Continent. John died in 1216, but it w^as not until 
a century and a half later that the French language 
gave way to the returning English, showing that the 
Normans had been substantially absorbed. About 1350, 
boys at school began to translate Latin into English. 
In 1356, the earliest English book of mark was written, 
the Travels of Sir John Mandeville. In 1362, the 
statute was passed which required law proceedings to 
be conducted in English instead of French ; and about 
1383, Wyclif made his translation of the Bible.^^ Dur- 
ing the continuance of the Norman or Continental in- 
fluence, after the separation from France, we are trav- 
ersing a lofty table -land stretching out beyond the 
mountain-top which we ascended Linder Norman rule. 
One or two landmarks on this table-land are deserving 
of attention before we descend into the valley of real 
English history, when the races had become amalga- 

The thirteenth century saw the first organization of 
the English Parliament. There had been previously 

* Hallam, " Literature of Europe," i. 37. Morley calls Mandeville 
"our first prose writer in formed English." — " English Writers from 
the Conquest to Chaucer," by Henry Morley, i. 750. The Parlia- 
ment of 1365 opened with a speech in English, and was probably 
also dismissed by Edward III. in English. Stubbs, iii. 478 ; Gneist, 
ii. 20. 


a Great Council, composed of the leading nobles and 
ecclesiastics, but nothing was known of any assemblage 
of representatives from the commons until 1265.'''" In 
that year, Earl Simon de Montfort, a Frenchman, sum- 
moned two citizens from every borough to attend the 
Parliament which he called while fighting Henry IILf 
This assembly amounted to nothing except as a sugges- 
tion for the future. But Edward I. called a Parliament 
in 1295, where, for the first time in English history, 
burgesses from every city, borough, and leading town 
within the kingdom came to sit with the bishops, knights, 
nobles, and barons of the Great Council. :{: 

* About 1164 we learn of the first assemblage of the important 
nobles and prelates to consider public questions, but these were of 
an ecclesiastical nature. Gneist, i. 287. They met, however, only to 
advise the sovereign, and not as a legislative body. Idem, p. 292. 
" In scarcely any other European country did the parliamentary 
constitution have such a slow and difficult birth as in England," 
p. 312. See as to the ancient and now exploded fictions al)out the 
Saxon Witenagemote as the parent of the English Parliament, p. 103. 

t Gneist, i. 330. Guizot calls him " the founder of representative 
government in England." 

I The system of borough representation was no invention of the 
English. Edward had very intimate relations with the Netherlands. 
In 1381, as I have shown in a former ciiapter, p. 153, he made a treaty 
of peace with the Count of Holland, which was guaranteed by the 
towns. Davies's "Holland," i. 83; Motley's ''Dutch Republic," i. 
37. In Holland, deputies from the towns met with the nobles and 
clero-y to vote supplies. This was all that Edward desired from his 
Parliament, and for a long time the representatives from the Eng- 
lish boroughs came very reluctantly when summoned. Green's 
" Short History," p. 199. The date of the division of Parliament into 
two houses is uncertain ; it took place some time before the middle 
of the fourteenth century. Taswell-Langmead's "Const. Hist, of 
England," p. 262 ; Gneist, ii. 27. The system of borough represen- 
tation did not originate, however, in the Netherlands. We find it 


In 1282, Edward I. conquers Wales, and makes it a 
permanent part of the British Empire. In 1296, he 
thought that he had done the same with Scotland, but 
there England met a different foe. The battle of Ban- 
nockburn, twenty years later, gave Scotland her inde- 
pendence forever. The same reign witnessed the death 
of Roger Bacon (who passed aw^ay forgotten and un- 
known), the culmination of Christian architecture,""^ and 
the expulsion of the Jews from England, f 

If England suffered from the expulsion of her Jews, 
their place was, in part at least, taken by another race, 
who had also been encouraged by the ]N'orman rulers. 
William the Conqueror brought over a number of weav- 
ers from Flanders, who founded the prosperity of l^or- 
wich. IS'early three hundred years later Edward III. 
embraced the scheme of colonization with greater vigor, 
and invited over a number of skilled Flemish artisans, 
who settled principally in ISTorfolk, Suffolk, and Essex 
counties. Their direct influence was not great, for Eng- 

in Spain, where from the earliest day the towns of Aragon and Cas- 
tile sent deputies to the Cortes. Robertson's " Charles V." (Am. 
ed. 1770), i. 120-123. This was at a date long before the Nor- 
man Conquest. The very name " Parliamentuni " had been used in 
France for over a century before its appearance in England. Gneist, 
i. 319. 

* Green's " Sliort History," p. 221. 

t The Norman kings had earnestly and successfully protected the 
Jews ; but by the time of Edward, the hatred of them by the people 
had gained the upper-hand. Year after year their privileges as hu- 
man beings had been curtailed, till, nothing remaining but life, at 
length, in 1290, the whole race was banished from the kingdom, 
and no member of it permitted to return until tlie time of Crom- 
well. Sixteen thousand, despoiled of their property, left England; 
but only a few reached the shores of France, almost all of the refu- 
gees being wrecked or murdered by the English sailors. Green. 


land was to do little at manufacturing for many a long 
year; but when we come to trace the rise of Puritanism, 
we shall find that wherever the Flemish or Dutch arti- 
sans had settled there was a stronghold of the Eefor- 

It took about three centuries, if we can judge from 
the test of language, for the absorption of the keen- 
witted JSTormans, with their love of art, devotion to 
learning, and talent for founding institutions, into the 
body of the Anglo-Saxons, who were in the proportion 
of about forty to one.* The result was the English- 
men, whose history carries us down into a dark and 
dreary vallej'', which stretches out with little change 
until we reach the middle of the Elizabethan age. 

On the dividing line between the England of the Xor- 
mans and the England of the English stands Chaucer, 
almost the last beacon light of foreign influence, and the 
first poet of English speech. Born somewhere about 
1335, the son of a vintner, we find him from an early 
day in close relations with the court. Marrying one of 
the maids of honor, he becomes brother-in-law to John 

* " Early in the fourteentli century the amalgamation of the two 
races was all but complete." — Macaulay, " Hist, of England," i. 16. 
German historians, with a very natural inclination to magnify the 
Saxon influence, assign an earlier date. See Gneist, i. 297; but see 
also ii. 20, regarding the growing use of the English language as 
proof of the growing influence of the Commons. This does not ap- 
pear until about three centuries after the Conquest. In this con- 
nection, it may be noticed that English writers, in order to show how 
thoroughly the Celts of Britain had been exterminated or driven 
out by the Anglo-Saxons, invariably point to the introduction of the 
language of the conquerors as one of their strongest arguments. 
The argument is a good one, and it applies with equal force to the 
absorption of the Normans, showing when the jirocess w^as com- 


of Gaunt, the famous Duke of Lancaster. Exception- 
ally familiar with Italian and French, he goes on gov- 
ernment missions to Florence, Genoa, Milan, Flanders, 
and France. In Italy he learns to revere the memory 
of Dante, possibly meets Petrarch and Boccaccio, and 
absorbs the whole spirit of Italian life. Keturning to 
England, in his latter days he writes poems, founded 
on the plan of his Italian masters, some copied almost 
directly from their works, but all instinct wath English 
thouD^ht and feelino;. His was the first outburst of the 
English poetic spirit incited by the singers of the Conti- 
nent. But his song made no impression on his times : 
he lived in the debatable age, and was followed by no 
successor for nearly tw^o centuries. 

To the historian of England the century which fol- 
lowed the absorption of the ISTormans may be of interest, 
but for our purpose its story can be summed up in a few 
words ; and, to do no injustice to the record, I quote from 
one of the latest and ablest of English popular writers : 
" The hundred years which follow the brief sunshine of 
Cressy and the ' Canterbury Tales ' are years of the deep- 
est gloom ; no age of our history is so sad and sombre as 
the age which we traverse from the third Edward to Joan 
of Arc. The throb of hope and glory which pulsed at its 
outset through every class of English society died into in- 
action or despair. Material life lingered on indeed, com- 
merce still widened, but its progress w^as dissociated from 
all the nobler elements of national well-being. The towns 
sank again into close oligarchies ; the bondmen, strug- 
oflino' forward to freedom, fell back into a serfage which 
still leaves its trace on the soil. Literature reached its 
lowest ebb. The religious revival of the Lollards was 
trodden out in blood, while the Church shrivelled into 
a self-seeking secular priesthood. In the clash of civil 


strife political freedom was all but extinguished, and 
the age which began with the Good Parliament ended 
with the despotism of the Tudors," * 

This is the period whicli covers the long war Avith 
France. To those who look merely at the surface of 
events, it may seem strange to speak thus of an epoch 
of English history which witnessed the glorious victo- 
ries of Poitiers and Agincourt — an epoch in which Prance 
was time and again overrun by English soldiers ; in which 
a French king was led captive to London, and an Eng- 
lish king was recognized at Paris as successor to ^he 
throne of France. But these were merely triumphs of 
English energy, courage, and generalship in the field; 
at last French sagacity prevailed, and the English were 
driven back to their island retreat. Meantime the effect 
of these victories upon the conquerors was much like 
that produced on the Spaniards, at a later day, by their 
conquests in the 'New World. No longer restrained by 
the firm hands of such kings as they had known under 
J^orman rule, the English soldiers on French soil turned 
into mere bands of marauders. Men fought for the pil- 
lage of houses, the sack of cities, the ransom of captives. 
Collecting their booty, they would refuse to fight again 
until it was safely stored. France was desolated, but 
the moral injury to the English was greater than the 
material one to the French, for nothing is so rapidly 
repaired as the ravages of war. The nobles came home 
glutted with spoils, but unfitted for the arts of peace. 
In England they proved themselves as lawless and dis- 
solute as they had been greedy and cruel abroad.f 
Trampling upon the rights of the common people, re- 
belhon broke out, and the intervals between the cam- 

* Green's " Short History," p. 240. t Idem, p. 387. 


paigns against France were interspersed with domestic 

Pestilence came also to add its horrors. In 1348 the 
Black Death first appeared in England. During its rav- 
ages in the next few years it is claimed that more than 
one half of the population was carried off.* As a result, 
labor became so scarce and wages so high that tillage 
of the soil was almost abandoned. The great land-own- 
ers gave up agriculture, evicted their small tenants, 
and turned their fields into sheep pastures, raising wool 
which they sent to Flanders to be manufactured. Turned 
adrift, moneyless and without employment, the agricult- 
ural laborer developed into the " sturdy beggar," who 
for two centuries was to prove the pest of England. 
The last step was to take away the right of suffrage 
from the poorer classes. Until 1430, the knights of the 
shire — that is, the county members of Parliament — had 
been elected by all the freeholders, leaseholders, and 
copyholders of the county, who appeared on the day 
of election at the sheriff's court. 'Now a statute was 
passed providing that no one should be allowed to vote 
unless he was the owner of land worth forty shillings 
a year — a sum equal to at least twenty pounds to-day 
— and representing a far higher proportional income at 
the present time.f Thus it was that early under English 
rule the government became, as it has since continued, 
one by the rich, and for the rich alone. 

We need hardly ask how learning fared in such an 
age. In the last century of ISTorman influence, Oxford 
had numbered her students by thousands.:}: ISTow all 

* Perhaps one third. Prof. Thorold Rogers, Time, March, 1890. 

t Green's " Short History," p. 286. 

X The statement of old writers that in the fourteenth century Ox- 


this was changed. According to Wood, where before 
there were thousands there was now not one. This is 
of course an exaggeration, but the decline in numbers 
was very great, probably amounting to four fifths.* As 
a result, learning came to an almost stagnant condition. 
In 1443, there was not a single doctor of civil law resi- 
dent at Oxford, and the degrees of the university were 
sold for money.f Latin w^as then the language of the 
learned, but that spoken and written in England w^as 
simply a barbarous jargon, its masters being ignorant of 
even the ordinary rules of grammar. As for the col- 
leges, " Oxford Latin " became a by-w^ord among schol- 
ars. :{: 

One gleam of light shines athwart the darkness of 
this period, but it serves only to make the darkness more 
intense. About 1361, Wyclif appears ujoon the scene : 
for twenty years he struggles for religious freedom ; he 
translates the Bible into English, builds up the sect of 
the Lollards (mainly among the Flemish w^eavers of 
ISTorfolk), and dies in 1384, just in time to escape martyr- 
dom. English writers lay much stress upon his teach- 
ings, and point to him with pardonable pride as one of 
the early religious reformers ; so he was, but he was 
only a beacon light, like Bede, Roger Bacon, and Chau- 
cer, individual examples of something great in the na- 
tional character which time was to develop. The people 

ford bad thirty thousand students is now believed by no one. Lyte, 
in his recent work on that university, says that there were never 
more than four thousand, and Broderick puts the number at from 
two to three thousand. Lyte, p. 96 ; Broderick, p. 14. 

* Hallam's "Literature of Europe," i. 147; Green. 

t Lyte, pp. 314, 315. 

X Hallam's " Literature of Europe," i. 84. 


were not prepared for his coming, as were the Germans 
and Netherlanders for the advent of Luther, a century 
and a half later. He died, and his sect substantially died 
with him, for they were soon crushed out by the per- 
secutors of the Bishops' Court. At the conclusion of 
the war with France, almost every vestige of his influ- 
ence had disappeared. Keligious enthusiasm was dead. 
The one belief of the time was in sorcery and magic* 
We are now descending into a deep valley with great 

In 1415, the English won their famous victory at Agin- 
court. In 14:31, they burned Joan of Arc at the stake 
for sorcery, in turning the tide of conquest which had 
been so long setting against the French. In 1451, the 
long war came to an end ; the English were driven from 
the Continent, holding nothing but the city of Calais as 
a memento of their triumphs.f France became a might- 
ier power than ever before, and the English nobles were 
left to fight among themselves. 

The story of the last hundred years had been dark 
enough for English civilization, but that which is to fol- 
low is darker still. JSTo page in history is more dreary 
than that which chronicles the Wars of the Roses, ex- 
tending from 1450 to 1485. The contest was not one of 
principle, nothing being involved but the supremacy of 
faction ; and it was characterized simply by treachery, 
selfishness, and ruthless cruelty. The old, untamed, 
Anglo-Saxon nature seemed to be let loose, and we have 
again the battles of the kites and crows. In the period 
which extends from the accession of Henry YI. to that 
of Henry YIL, thirteen pitched battles were fought be- 
tween Englishmen and on English soil ; the crown was 

Green, p. 288. t This was lost in the reign of Mary. 

L— 20 


twice won and twice lost by each of the contending 
houses; three out of four kings died by violence; eighty 
persons connected with the blood royal were reckoned 
as having perished on the field or scaffold or by the 
hand of the assassin; and the great majority of the noble 
families became extinguished, or sank into obscurity.'"" 
The wholesale confiscations which followed the final 
establishment of the Tudors transferred, it is said, near- 
ly one fifth of the land of the kingdom into the hands 
of the successful reigning house. As the ultimate issue 
of the contest, the progress of English freedom was ar- 
rested for over a hundred years.f Up to this time, even 
during the long war with France, although civilization 
was falling so rapidly behind, the forms of liberty had 
been preserved, and the security of the citizens so well 
guarded as to excite the admiration of observers like 
Commines, w^ho pronounced England the best-governed 
country in the world.:]; 

But all this was passing away. Libert}^ in England, 
like that in Spain, had rested on the strength of the 
great barons, who, as a condition of securing their own 
rights, had been compelled to protect those of their 
humbler allies and retainers. The "Wars of the Roses, 
in w^hich gunpowder was first used on British soil, dealt 
the death-blow to everything which was beneficial in 
the feudal system, leaving only its withered branches 
still to cumber the earth. With this power gone, the 
greater nobles being removed by death and the lesser 
ones cowed and scattered ; wdth a middle class just born, 
and the people as yet undreamed of; with a Church, 

* Kirk's " Charles the Bold," ii. 29. 
t Green's " Short History," p. 301. 
I Commines wrote about 1472. 


which through the Middle Ages had been the friend of 
freedom, now sunk into debauchery or faUing into pitia- 
ble decrepitude ; with manufactures almost unknown, 
and commerce in its infancy, nothing could be expected 
but the absolutism of the crown, and this came to stay, 
until hacked down by the rude blows of the Puritans in 
the days of Charles I. 

It was at this time that torture was introduced as 
part of the regular machinery of state, not to be finally 
put away until after the Eevolution of 1688. The priv- 
ilege of self -taxation now became a delusion; for the 
Tudor kings, when in want of money, did not lay a 
formal tax, to be sure, but by forced loans simply helped 
themselves from the coffers of their wealthy subjects. 
Jury trials were turned into a farce, when the juries 
were always packed, and, in addition, punished if they 
gave a verdict against the crown. As for Parliament, it 
was rarely summoned, and then met only to record the 
decrees which riveted the fetters of tyranny.* 

If liberty seemed dead under the Tudor kings, litera- 
ture and learning were hardly less lifeless. This was not 
the fault of the age, for in the fifteenth century, and 
especially towards its close, the whole of the Continent 
of Europe was in an intellectual ferment. England alone, 
peaceful England, cut off from the elder civilization by 
the Channel, scarcely felt the movement, and was not to 
feel it for nearly a hundred years to come. In this con- 
nection, however, two events should be noticed, not from 
the importance of their immediate results, but because 
they form little landmarks in English history, and give 
promise of something better in the future. 

* See Green for au admirable account of these features of the 
period from the Wars of the Roses to the accession of Elizabeth. 


The first is the introduction of printing into England. 
In 1476, William Caxton, after an absence of thirty-five 
years, returned home with a priceless treasure : a print- 
ing-press, which he had learned to use while living in the 
J^etherlands. This brought England again into some 
relations with the Continent, but a single fact will show 
how slight was its effect upon the general pubhc. In the 
thirty years which succeeded the setting-up of Caxton's 
press at Westminster, from ten to fifteen thousand edi- 
tions of books and pamphlets were printed in Europe ; 
but of all this number only one hundred and forty-one 
appeared in England.* The quality, too, was on a par 
with the quantity. The first book which issued from 
the German press was the Bible. Caxton's first produc- 
tion was a little work on the Game of Chess, or perhaps 
one on the Siege of Troy. Well may Hallam say, re- 
viewing them all, that his publications " indicate, on the 
whole, but a low state of knowledge in England."-t- These 
simple facts should be borne in mind when we read the 
glowing sentences in which historians have described the 
revival of learning. There was a glorious revival about 
this time, but until the latter days of Elizabeth England 

*Hallain's <' Literature of Europe," i. 193. 

t Hallam, i. 135. Strype, in his "Ecclesiastical Memorials," in 
giving the important events of the year 1551, throws considerable 
light on the small advance made by English printers even at that 
time. He says : " Let me add here, now we are upon the mention 
of books printed, that in April tins year, two foreign printers — the 
one an Italian, the other a Dutchman — had privileges granted them 
to print certain books, which it seems our English printers had not 
skill or learning enough to do." The Italian printed the Digests 
and Pandects of the Roman Civil Law ; the Dutchman printed a 
Herbal compiled by William Turner, Doctor in Physic. Strype, ii. 


had very little sha^;e in it ; the mass of her people could 
not read, and hence had no need of boohs. What the 
upper classes read, I shall describe hereafter. 

The second event was the gathering at Oxford, in the 
latter part of the fifteenth and the early part of the six- 
teenth century, of a little band of scholars, called the 
Oxford Eeformers. The band was made up of Grocyn, 
Linacre, and Colet — all of whom had been students in 
Italy — with Thomas More and a few others, who, in- 
cited by the scholars of the Continent, began the study 
of classical literature. To them came Erasmus for the 
study of Greek under Grocyn, being too poor to go to 
Italy. A mere boy, full of enthusiasm and ignorant of 
Italian culture, the new-comer, shortly after his arrival, 
wrote a letter praising in high terms the learning which 
he found at Oxford. This letter has been the delight of 
almost every English author who has written of this 
period;* but Hallam, the cold, sober-minded historian, 
pricks the bubble. He points out that Erasmus Avas 
writing to an English friend, that he was always given 
to flattery, and concludes that the English cannot in 
conscience take his praises to themselves.f 

* See extracts in Green's "Short History," p. 317. 

t " The scholars were few, and not more than three or four could 
be found, or at least now mentioned, who had any tincture of Greek 
• — Grocyn, Linacre, William Latimer, who, though an excellent schol- 
ar, never published anything, and More, who had learned at Oxford 
under Grocyn." — Hallam's "Literature of Europe," i. 185. Grocyn, 
after returning from Italy, communicated his acquisitions " chiefly to 
deaf ears." Idem, p. 184; see also p. 219 as to the "panegyrical 
humor" of Erasmus. In 1510, More succeeded in again bringing 
Erasmus over to England to teach Greek at Cambridge. " The 
students," says Hallam, "were too poor to pay him anything, and his 
instruction was confined to the grammar. In the same year Colet, 


The fact is that the group of Enghsh scholars was very 
small, and the acquirements of its members were very 
limited. Green claims More alone as entitled to rank 
among the great classical scholars of the age, and even 
of him Hallam remarks that he had a very ingenious 
but not a profound mind.* 

It must be remembered that at this time the universi- 
ties on the Continent contained a large number of men 
learned not only in Greek, but in Hebrew, Chaldee, and 
Arabic as well. Peter Albinus, historiographer of Sax- 
ony, w^ho died in 1598, wrote a pamphlet on " Foreign 
Languages and Unknown Islands," in which he enumer- 
ates the names and acquisitions of a number of these 
early scholars, some of whom were skiUed in fifteen lan- 
guages, a knowledge of six or seven being quite common. 
He says that, although our ancestors were satisfied with 
the Latin, a man is not now regarded, even by the vul- 
gar, as plausibly learned who is not master of Greek or 
Hebrew at least, in addition, of course, to Latin, the uni- 
versal language. ISTever at any period since the Christian 
era had there been so many in Europe skiUed in Hebrew, 
Chaldee, and Greek literature as there were in that day 
within the universities of Germany, France, Italy, and 

Dean of St. Paul's, founded there a school, and published a Latin 
grammar. Five or six little works of this kind had already ap- 
peared in England. These trifling things are mentioned to let the 
reader take notice that there is notliing more worthy to be named. 
. . . The difference in point of learning between Italy and England 
was at least that of a century; that is, the former was more advanced 
in knowledge of ancient literature in 1400 than the latter was in 
1500." — Hallam, i. 205. Very mildly he concludes: "In the spirit 
of truth, we cannot quite take to ourselves the compliment of Eras- 
mus." — Idem, p. 219. 
* Hallam, i. 221. 


Spain.* In 1517, Cardinal Ximenes published in Spain 
his famous polyglot Bible, in Hebrew, Greek, Chaldee, 
and Latin, In 1516, Justinian, Bishop of IsTebbio, in 
Corsica, published a psalter in Hebrew, Greek, Arabic, 
Chaldee, and Latin, f These illustrations only suggest 
the work going on in the foreign universities when the 
English were beginning to study the Greek grammar 
and publish little elementary books on Latin. 

Such as they were, however, these disciples of the 
New Learning form almost the last beacon lights in 
English literary history, until we come to Spenser, 
Shakespeare, Hooker, and Bacon. They brought clas- 
sical literature to the universities, and it lived there 
for a time a sickly life ; but the soil was unfruitful, 
the climate ungenial, and in a few j^ears it withered away 
and died. Their religious teachings were equally un- 
fitted for the age and country. Luther came preach- 
ing to men and not to scholars, thundering against the 
abuses of the Church ; but he awakened no echo among 
these students.:}: They founded a grammar school or 
two, and probably exerted some influence on the middle 
stratum of society, but on the surface they hardly 
raised a ripple. § 

Upon England the Reformat ion, for many years, pro- 

* See translation of this rare pamphlet by Edmund Goldsmid, Ed- 
inburgh, 1884. Privately printed. 

t Idem. I Green, p. 31. 

§ In this connection we may also profitably notice a little Protes- 
tant movement at Oxford which occurred in 1527. It was led by 
Thomas Garret, a fellow of Magdalen College. The students affect- 
ed by it read tlie New Testament, Luther's tracts, and like heretical 
works. Finally they were detected, placed in confinement, and all 
except one, who died in prison, retracted. Oxford was purged of 
heresy. Froude, ii. 56, 76. 


duced but a faint impression. The people, to be sure, 
had their religion changed for them, from time to time, 
but such transformations signified nothing. The first 
one was imposed by Henry YIII. in 1531. Finding 
that he could obtain his divorce in no other way, he 
deposed the pope from the headship of the English 
Church and assumed the place himself. The common 
people acquiesced, for they knew and cared little about 
such questions, except in their political bearings. The 
nobles were won over by an arrangement which made 
the restoration of the old relations with Rome almost 
impossible. The monastic orders in England, as upon 
the Continent, had absorbed a large portion of the 
land.* Henry abolished the monasteries, confiscated 
their property, and divided it largely among his cour- 
tiers. The men thus enriched had no love for Prot- 
estantism, but never would accede to any legislation 
which looked towards a surrender of their plunder. 

In the end, the separation from Eome was to prove 
a great blessing; but at the outset only evil results 
seemed to follow. The ecclesiastics, with all their 
faults, had been at least liberal and indulgent landlords. 
It has been estimated that they demanded from their 
tenants not more than a tenth of the rental value of 
their lands. Under such a system the farmer was al- 
most a freeholder. The suppression of the monasteries 
brought this to an end. Their estates passed into the 
hands of men who exacted the last penny of rent. It 
was as yet more profitable to raise wool than grain, and 
so farms were now given up in greater numbers, the 
buildings were torn down, and the tenants turned adrift 
to prey upon the public. We can trace the effects of 

* Estimated at one fifth. Gneist, ii. 159. 


this change in successive acts of Parliament passed for 
the repression of pauperism, under which the beggar 
for the first offence was to be whipped, for the second 
to have his ears slit or bored with a red-hot iron, and 
for the third to be put to death as a felon. A later act 
provided that all vagrants should be apprehended and 
treated as slaves. Formed into bands, the " sturdy beg- 
gars" roamed over the country, always ready for a 
civil commotion, of which they incited several, and 
everywhere making life and property insecure.* 

But this was not the worst immediate result of the 
separation from Eome. The movement, it must be 
borne in mind, Avas not a religious nor a theological, 
but almost entirely a secular one. During the reign of 
Henry the Eeformer the same hurdle bore to the stake 
three men who denied the king's spiritual supremacy — • 
the new English doctrine — and three others who ques- 
tioned the doctrine of transubstantiation, the leading 
tenet of the Church of Rome.f No change of belief 
was proposed, only a change of pope. However, the 
mode in which this change was accomplished, and the 
object for which it was brought about, were disastrous 

* Harrisou says that during the reign of Henry VIII. seventy-two 
thousand persons were executed in England for crimes against the 
person and property. During about the same period, according to 
tlie estimate of William of Orange, over fifty thousand were execut- 
ed in the Netlierlands for lieresy. Both estimates, however, may be, 

t Hallam's " Const. Hist.," i. 93. See Gneist, ii. 157, for an account 
of the difference between the Reformation upon the Continent and 
that in England. Upon the Continent it was the result of an in- 
tellectual belief in the errors of the Romish Church. In England, 
it gained its power among the masses from a political desire for 
national independence, by throwing off the yoke of a foreign eccle- 
siastical ruler. The intellectual and religious movement was de- 
layed in England for many years. 


enough to the cause of religion. In the suppression of 
the monasteries every indignity was offered to objects 
which the people looked up to with reverent awe. The 
Bible was translated into the vulgar tongue, but only, 
to use the words of Henry himself, to be "disputed, 
rhymed, sung, and jangled in every tavern and ale- 
house " in the land, so that he soon suppressed its gen- 
eral reading. The priests, terrorized by the crown, lost 
all independence, and thought only of saving their liv- 
ings by the most abject servility. 

The effect of this religious upheaval on the public at 
large was bad enough during the reign of Henry ; still, he 
tried to check the excesses of the fanatics, and preserved 
some respect for outward religious forms. Upon his 
death, however, the revolution went still further. The 
uncle of the young king, who assumed the office of 
Protector, had little religion, but thought it to his ad- 
vantage to ally himself with the more violent of the 
Reformers. The precocious Edward was doubtless sin- 
cere in his Protestantism, and his sincerity aided the 
work of the Protector. The mass was abolished, the 
altars were torn down, all pictures and images removed 
from the churches ; the doctrine of transubstantiation 
was repudiated, the confessional abolished, and priests 
were permitted to marry. "With these violent changes, 
the old religion Avas gone, but unfortunately nothing 
was substituted in its place. "We have seen that in the 
ISTetherlands the new religion naturally replaced the 
old, the process being a slow and silent one, brought 
about by placing the Bible in the hands of a people all 
of whom could read. The mass of the English popula- 
tion were too ignorant to dispense at once with the 
sensuous element in their religion, and utterly unfitted 
to accept the doctrines of the Eeformation, even had 


these doctrines been brought to their attention.* De- 
prived of the old system, which at least inculcated some 
morality, and incapable of comprehending the new 
teachings, which made faith of paramount importance, 
the result followed which may be looked for whenever 
all religious restraints are thrown aside. 

The English people were low enough before, but now 
a sudden lurch seemed to plunge them into still lower 
depths. With every barrier broken down, the nation 
entered on a carnival of irreligion and immorality. The 
patron of a benefice no longer made a distinction be- 
tw^een a clergyman and a layman. He appointed as 
rector of a parish, himself, his steward, his huntsman, 
or his gamekeeper, and then pocketed the stipend.f 
Learning, too, naturally declined, the attendance at the 
universities falling off to almost nothing, the libraries 
being destroyed or scattered, and costly books burned 
or chopped up with axes.:}: One transaction shows bet- 
ter, perhaps, than anything else the iconoclastic charac- 
ter of the age. The Duke of Somerset, the Protector, 
having pulled down some churches in order to erect 
Somerset House with the materials, next projected the 
demolition of Westminster Abbey for the same purpose. 

* I have shown in a previous chapter that it was not until 1538 
that any translation of the Bible was printed in English. 

t "The cathedrals and churches of London became the chosen 
scenes of riot and profanation. St. Paul's was the stock-exchange 
of the day, where the merchants of the city met for business, and 
tiie lounge where the young gallants gambled, fought, and killed 
each other. They rode their horses through the aisles and stabled 
them among the monuments." — Froude, v. 256. 

J Hallam's "Literature of Europe," ii. 35. "The divinity schools 
were planted with cabbages, and the Oxford laundresses dried clothes 
in the schools of arts." — Froude. 


From this act of vandalism he was turned aside only bj 
a grant from the chapter of some of its estates.* 

The public service also felt the evil infiuenoe. Cor- 
ruption everywhere prevailed. Every official, from the 
highest to the lowest, plundered the treasury. In seven- 
teen years the expenses of government increased more 
than fourfold, and, ignorant of the first jDrinciples of po- 
litical economy, the crown attempted to make money 
by debasing the currency.f Private business and moral- 
ity likewise naturally suffered. The English had man- 
ufactured some coarse woollen cloth which had acquired 
a good reputation on the Continent, ISTow came news 
that huge bales of it were lying on the wharves at 
Antwerp without a purchaser " through the naughtiness 
of the making," and, " yet more shameful, that woollens, 
fraudulent in make, weight, and size, were exposed in 
the place of St. Mark with the brand of the Senate upon 
them, as evidence of the decay of English honesty with 
the decay of English faith. ":{; 

One creditable thing was accomplished by the Re- 
formers of the time of Edward. They founded eighteen 
grammar schools and some hospitals, appropriating for 
the endowment of them all land worth twelve hundred 
pounds a year, equal perhaps to as many thousand 
pounds to-day.§ As these same men granted to them- 
selves crown lands to the value of a million and a half, 
equal to fifteen or twenty million pounds in modern 

* Hallam's " Const. Hist.," i. 105. These men, it must be remem- 
bered, Avere not Puritans, but the founders of the Church of England. 

t Froude, v. 154, 266, etc. 

X Idem, V. 259. For a full account of the corruption and demor- 
alization of this time, see Strype's "Ecclesiastical Memorials," vol. ii. 
chaps, xxiii-xxiv. § Idem, v. 431. 


money,* and as they and their predecessors had largely 
absorbed the property of the monasteries and other 
clerical institutions, this contribution to the cause of 
humanity and learning Avas hardly lavish enough to 
warrant the praise of historians, who call it a "noble 
measure," throwing a lustre over the name of Edward.f 
But let us be thankful for even the eighteen grammar 
schools, and their sixty or seventy pounds a year. Their 
foundation was unique. The government did nothing 
more of the kind for three centuries ; and even these few 
schools bore fruit in time. 

"With the accession of Queen Mary, in 1553, there 
came a short and terrible reaction, showing how little 
the people at large cared about religious matters. The 
changes during the reign of Edward had been made by 
an almost unanimous Parliament, now the House of 
Lords, without a dissentient voice, and the House of 
Commons, by a vote of three hundred and fifty-eight, 
to two, decided to return to the Eomish faith. :|: The 
mass was restored, the new prayer-book set aside, the 

* Froude ; Green ; Gneist, ii. 162. f Green. 

X Froude, vi. 268. Speaking of these bewildering transformation 
scenes, unknown in other lands, the Venetian ambassador resident 
at London reported to his government in 1557 : " The example and 
authority of the sovereign are everything with the people of this 
country in matters of faith. As he believes, they believe. Juda- 
ism or Mahometanism — it is all one to them. They conform them- 
selves easily to his will, at least so far as the outward show is con- 
cerned; and most easily of all where it concurs with their own 
pleasure and profit." Of the English Parliament he adds: "They 
are rarely summoned except to save the king trouble, or to afford a 
cloak to his designs. No one ventures to resist the regal will, ser- 
vile the members come there and servile they remain."— Prescott's 
" Philip II.," i. 77, 79. 


married priests were driven from their livings, and the old 
system was re-estabhshed, with one notable exception : 
Parliament would not consent to giving up a single acre 
of the church property which its own members had ac- 
quired. For forms of religion they cared nothing, and 
BO were ready enough to humor their monarch ; but this 
was a practical question in which there was no room for 

In 1554, Mary marries Philip of Spain. Some of her 
nobles at first objected to the match, but their consent 
was obtained through bribes furnished by Philip's fa- 
ther.* The future King of Spain was anxious to ob- 
tain the alliance of England, with her two or three mill- 
ion inhabitants, all of whose able-bodied men were sol- 
diers by birthright ; but he went to England for his 
bride with little apparent pleasure. The Spanish min- 
ister advised him to wear a shirt of mail under his 
doublet, and to bring his own cook, for fear of being 
poisoned.f Arriving in the country, his luggage was 
plundered, and the property stolen could not be re- 
covered, nor the thieves detected.:}: 

He remained in England just long enough to discover 
that his marriage was a barren one. His wife tried to 
cheer him by burning some heretics, against which act 
his father's minister protested, but only on the ground 
of policy.§ But even this could not detain him. It is 
charitable to believe that his departure drove Mary into 

* Froucle, vi. 188. t Idem, vi. 223. J Idem, vi. 242. 

§ Idem, vi. 211, 212. This same faithful minister pointed out to 
Philip, Tvho wished to leave England after six weeks, that however 
much his wife might be deficient in " refinement," she was infinitely 
virtuous, which she certainly was. Froude, vi. 811. "Politesse" is 
the French word used by tlie minister, the meaning of which the 
English historian hardly gives by translating it " agreeal:>ility." 


madness. In the three years thereafter she earned the 
title of the '" Bloody " queen by the atrocities which she 
committed in the name of the Catholic religion. Arch- 
bishop and bishop, priest and layman, women, children, 
and babes just born, all perished in the flames; and yet 
the people made no sign. The tale of the Martyrs is a 
fit close to the roll of horror which begins ^vith the "Wars 
of the Roses. Truly the valley into which we have de- 
scended is very deep and dark. 

" IsTever," says Green, " had the fortunes of England 
sunk to a lower ebb than at the moment when Elizabeth 
mounted the throne." But it was not alone the fortunes 
of the State which had gone down. Society was demor- 
alized, and remained so during her entire reign, in some re- 
spects becoming worse instead of better. Still, it is hard- 
ly fair to charge these results, as some would do, to the 
religious teachings of the Eeformers. We see in modern 
times that some savage nations shrivel up morally before 
our civilization, but do not attribute this calamity to the 
teachings of Christianity. A rude people w^ill generally 
copy the vices of their superiors in education long before 
they imitate the virtues. This was the case with the 
English when first brought into contact with the intel- 
lectual movement upon the Continent, of which the 
Eeformation was only the religious feature, and among 
them, too, the Eeformation in time did good work. 

But, however all this may be, and whatever the causes 
which brought about its moral and social condition, we 
have ample material for a study in its every aspect of 
the England of Elizabeth, which gave birth to English 
and American Puritanism. 



If a person acquainted with the appearance of the 
country to-day could be carried back to the England of 
three centuries ago, he would find himself well-nigh a 
stranger in a strange land. Almost nothing before him 
would appear familiar. "We see now highly cultivated 
fields, trim hedges, fat cattle, smooth hard roads, neat 
cottages, and lordly mansions ; not to mention the vast 
manufactories which have revolutionized the ISTorth. 
"When Elizabeth ascended the throne, only about one 
fourth of the arable land was under cultivation, and 
that of the rudest character; the remainder was still 
covered with fen and forest, or was devoted to the past- 
uring of sheep. Through the forest the red deer wan- 
dered in thousands, while the wolf, the w^ild cat, the wild 
bull, and the wild boar were not uncommon.^^ 'None of 
the hedges which now form so charming a feature of 
the landscape then lined the roads. The cattle in the 
fields and the horses on the highway were small and of 
tittle value. 

* The German traveller Hentzner, who visited England in 1598, 
saw a wild wolf which had been captured there. Macaulay says 
that the last one on the island was slain in the reign of Charles II. 
He also tells us that the wild bull and the wild cat were found in the 
forest in 1685. " History of England," chap. iii. 


In fact, England, which is now an agricultural, com- 
mercial, and manufacturing, was then largely a pastoral 
land. Almost the sole industry of the people in the 
rural districts was the raising of sheep and cattle. Time 
and again Parliament had passed laws to check the de- 
votion to this one pursuit, which was considered injuri- 
ous to the general welfare ; but all in vain. The advance 
of the world in vfealth created more and more of a de- 
mand for woven fabrics. The English wool was of a 
superior quality, and for many years had commanded 
high prices in the Netherlands. Under such conditions 
legislation could do nothing. Individual flocks had 
numbered as high as twenty thousand sheep ; a law 
passed in the reign of Henry VIII. limited them to two 
thousand, but this meant only a subdivision and ficti- 
tious transfers. So long as it was profitable wool-rais- 
ing was continued. 

During the reign of Elizabeth there was a vast in- 
crease in the commerce and manufactures of the I^ether- 
lands. This raised still further the price of English avooI, 
pouring a constant stream of wealth into the country. 
In addition, the English increased their own manufact- 
ures of coarse woollen cloth, and this added to the gener- 
al disturbance of industrial conditions which had begun 
many years before. More land was turned into pastur- 
age, more small farms were given up ; men with newly- 
acquired wealth developed a mania for acquiring land 
and becoming country gentlemen; rents were raised 
enormously ; the dispossessed tenants and unemployed 
farm laborers flocked into the towns ; while the new 
landlords cultivated grain only for their own consump- 
tion, selling their wool to the manufacturers, and export- 
ing wool and cheese to the Continent. 

In time, under a Ketherland influence which will be 
I.— 21 


described hereafter, all kinds of manufactures were in- 
troduced, England's commerce was developed, and, with 
markets at home and abroad for the general produce of 
the farm, scientific agriculture finally came in, and the 
laborer again found employment on the land. But these 
results came about long after Elizabeth had passed away. 
Her reign was a period of social disturbance, caused 
largely by industrial transition, in which the rich be- 
came richer and the poor poorer. This is one of the 
central facts, unnoticed by many writers, which should 
always be kept in mind by any one who would under- 
stand the history of this era.* 

The first thing which struck the Spaniards who ac- 
companied Philip II. on his nuptial tour, in 1554, was 
the appearance of the English dwellings. These, they 
said, were built of " sticks and dirt." This description 
might seem inspired by ill-humor, or one might think 
it applicable only to the hovels of the very poor, but 
for the survival of some of the residences of the time. 
They are constructed of a timber frame filled in with a 

* See Froude, passim, and more particularly " Society in the Eliz- 
abethan Age," by Hubert Hall, of H. M. Public Record OfEce (London, 
1886), a work the material for which was gathered from official docu- 
umeuts, many of which are printed in the appendix, supplementing 
those given by Froude and Strype. I shall refer to it frequently 
hereafter, and take this opportunity to make my acknowledgments 
to the author for his valuable contribution to the social history of 
this period. Prof. Thorold Rogers expresses the opinion that the 
condition of the English working classes was more miserable during 
the larger part of the seventeenth century than at any other period 
in their history, except that of the Napoleonic wars. See Time, 
March, 1890. This is probably true of the agricultural laborer, whose 
condition had been getting worse and worse from the beginning of 
the sixteenth century. 


coarse mortar which looks like mud. As probably only 
the best ones have come down to us, common clay may 
have been used in the majority. One of these houses, 
now standing in Stratford, shows that such structures 
were not the residences of the poor alone. It was occu- 
pied by John Shakespeare when he was wealthy and fill- 
ing the highest municipal office in his town. In 1876, 
an American scholar, an enthusiastic student of Shake- 
speare, and one of the prominent editors of his works, 
went to England for the first time. Stratford was of 
course his Mecca. The house in which the poet was 
probably born, and in which he certainly passed his boy- 
hood, he found had been externally rejuvenated and its 
identity destroyed. Within, however, it remained un- 
changed. Let me quote the words which summed up 
his impressions of the mansion which housed the High- 
bailiif , or Mayor, of Stratford : 

" My heart sank within me as I looked around upon 
the rude, mean dwelling-place of him who had filled the 
world with the splendor of his imaginings. It is called a 
house, and any building intended for a dwelling-place is 
a house ; but the interior of this one is hardly that of a 
rustic cottage : it is almost that of a hovel — poverty- 
stricken, squalid, kennel-like — a house so cheerless and 
comfortless I had not seen in rural England. The poor- 
est, meanest farm-house that I had ever entered in JSTew 
England or on Long Island was a more cheerful habi- 
tation. And amid these sordid surroundings William 
Shakespeare grew to early manhood." * With illusion 

* " England Without and Within," Richard Grant White, p. 526. 
The home of Anne Hathaway is likewise standing. Her family was 
superior socially to that of her husband's. This dwelling our au- 
thor also visited, and of it remarks : " There is little to be said about 


dispelled, this pilgrim regretted that he had gone to 

But -^vhy should the student feel such regret as this ? 
Certainly the works of the world's dramatist can only 
be appreciated when we understand the character of his 
surroundings. Seeing the age in which he lived in its 
true light, his dramas put on a new significance, holding, 
in very truth, " the mirror up to nature." It was a rude 
world which he depicted, full of passionate hot blood, 
boiling over in all forms of violence, but lighted up with 
the glory which comes but once, when a great people are 
awakenino; into life. It is absurd to think of the author 
of these plays as a rude, unlettered peasant boy going 
up to London to seek his fortune. His father, although 
he lived in what seems to some visitors a hovel-like 
structure, because so devoid of appliances for comfort, 
occupied this house when chief magistrate of the town 
of Stratford.* His residence seems very mean when 
compared with the stone dwellings of the same date in 
the cities of the ]!^etherlands, and to modern eyes may 
appear a poverty-stricken habitation ; but compare it 
with the theatre in which the pla3^s of his son were 
given to the world, and we find the two in keeping. 

In 15T6, the first theatre was opened in London, It 
was situated in Blackfriars, and was erected by the ser- 

this house, whicli is merely a thatcbcd cottage of the same grade as 
the house in Henley Street ; in its original condition a picturesque 
object in the landscape, but the lowliest sort of human habitation." 
— Idem, p.. 529. See White's " Shakespeare " for his preconceived idea 
of the poet's home obtained from books alone. 

* The house in Henley Street is at present sixty-five feet long and 
twenty-one feet deep, with an extension or addition on the rear, 
about twenty feet square. (Memorandum of survey kindly sent me 
by the curator). 


vants of the Earl of Leicester. In 1594, the company at 
this playhouse, in which William Shakespeare was a part- 
ner as Avell as an actor, built their new theatre, the fa- 
mous Globe. Constructed of wood, hexagonal in shape, 
it was surrounded by a muddy ditch, and surmounted 
by a red flag, which was elevated into place at three 
o'clock in the afternoon, when the performance began. 
Within, the whole space was open to the elements, ex- 
cept that the stage was covered with a thatched roof. 
Here the gallants sat on stools among the actors, or lay 
on the rush-strewn floor, eating, dritiking, playing cards, 
and smoking the tobacco which Kaleigh had just made 
fashionable. Below, in the pit — and the word meant 
something then — were gathered the common people, 
standing up, taking the rain when it fell, drinking beer, 
and, as it operated, using a great upturned barrel which 
was set in the ground to receive their contributions. 
When the smell became too strong, a cry arose, " Burn 
the juniper," and the air was fiUed with its heavy smoke. 
On the stage, a huge scroll attached to a post told in 
large letters the location of the scene ; a bunch of flowers 
indicated a garden ; three or four supernumeraries with 
swords and bucklers represented an army, and the roll- 
ing of a drum a pitched battle.* 

Certainly there is as great a contrast between such a 
theatre as this and the modern palace of the drama as 
appears between the house of Shakespeare's father in 

* Sir Pbilii) Sidney's " Defence ^ Poesy ;" Taiue's " English Lit- 
erature ;" Green ; Drake's " Shakespeare ;" Chambers's " Cyclopae- 
dia of Englisli Literature," etc. Movable scenery was first intro- 
duced after the Eestoration, and at the same time women began to 
take the female parts, which before that date had been represented 
by boys. 


Stratford and the residence of the poet-laureate of Eng- 
land, or that of a French dramatist like Hugo, Dumas, 
or Sardou. The audience at the Globe had the im- 
aginations of children, who from a few chairs will con- 
struct you a steamship or a railroad train, and transport 
you in a moment to any quarter of the universe. The 
poorer the children, the more they will delight in the so- 
ciety of imaginary princes, and revel in scenes of ficti- 
tious splendor. The poet who ministered to this audi- 
ence was himself " the very age and body of the time." 

But we have much more than the house in Stratford 
to reveal the characters of the dwellings of this period, 
Harrison, writing in 1580, tells us that in the early days 
of Elizabeth the mansion-houses of the country gentle- 
men were little better than cottages, except in size, be- 
ing thatched buildings, covered on the outside with the 
coarsest clay, and lighted only by lattices. Outside of 
London, chimneys were very rare ; the smoke of the 
open fire being allowed to escape as it might, either 
through the ungiazed windows or by an aperture in the 

The interior of these dwellings was equally unpreten- 

* Harrison's account of England, prefixed to Holinshed's 
"Chronicles." Chimneys were Bot used in the farm-liouses of 
Cheshire until about 1616. Whitaker's " Craven," quoted by Hal- 
lani, "Middle Ages," chap. ix. part ii. "It is an error," says Hal- 
lam, "to suppose that the English gentry were lodged in stately or 
even well-sized houses. Generally si)eaking, their dwellings were 
almost as inferior to those of th'eir descendants in capacity as they 
w^ere in convenience. The usual arrangement consisted of an en- 
trance passage running through the house, with a hall on one side, 
a parlor beyond, and one or two chambers above, and on the oppo- 
site side a kitchen, pantry, and other offices. Such Avas the ordi- 
nary manor-house of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries." — Idem. 


tious. A gentleman's house containing three or four 
beds was extraordinarily well provided ; few probably 
had more than two. The walls were bare, not even 
being plastered. Glass windows, when they existed, 
were looked upon as movable furniture. Carpets were 
almost unknown, and chairs seem to have been a rarity. 
An inventory of the furniture in Skipton Castle, which 
belonged to the Earl of Cumberland and was one of the 
most splendid mansions of the ]Srorth,was made in 15Y2. 
It shows that there were not more than seven or eight 
beds in the castle, and that none of the chambers had 
chairs, window glass, or carpets.* Among the better 
class of farmers, the men slept on straw, with a good 
round log for a bolster, pillows being thought meet 
only for women in childbirth. The platters from which 
they ate were made of wood, and their spoons of the 
same material. 

As wealth increased, during the reign of Elizabeth, 
many improvements became apparent. The ancient 
timber mansions of the gentry were now covered with 
plaster, " which," says Harrison, " beside the delectable 
whitenesse of the stuffe itselfe, is laied on so even and 
smoothlie, as nothing in my judgment can be done with 
more exactnesse." f The new mansions were commonly 
of brick or stone, larger and more convenient. The walls 
were hung with tapestry or sealed with oak, and here 
and there stoves were introduced. The more general 
use of glass for windows came also to give a comfort 
before unknown.:]: The farmers, too, in the regions near 

* Hallam's " Middle Ages." 

t Tacitus describes the Germans as living in houses constructed 
of rough timljer, filled in with shining clay. " Germania," § 16. 
J Harrison. 


the capital, felt the miprovement. Their wooden dishes 
were replaced with pewter, added to which was an occa- 
sional piece of silver ; feather beds became common, and 
the multitude of chimneys newly erected excited the ad- 
miration of the old inhabitants. 

Above the mansions of the gentry stood the castles of 
the great nobles, which, though few in number, were in 
some cases of imposing dimensions. It is from the ro- 
mantic description of some of these exceptional struct- 
ures that many persons have formed their impressions 
of the general magnificence of the age. Fortunately we 
have some unquestionable evidence relating to the furni- 
ture, conveniences, and modes of life in several of these 
dwellings of the great, which may serve to modify such 
impressions. Henry Percy, fifth Earl of Northumber- 
land, who died in 1527, was one of England's most mag- 
nificent nobles. When the Princess Margaret, in 1503, 
married James lY. of Scotland, he was commissioned to 
escort the bride to the border, and did so with a train 
which, according to the chroniclers of the time, was royal 
in its splendor. He had two lordly castles in Yorkshire, 
where he entertained on an average fifty-seven guests a 
day. His regular household numbered one hundred and 
fifty - sijc, which included eleven priests, headed by a 
canon. For the regulation of this enormous establish- 
ment a most elaborate system was adopted and embod- 
ied in a " Household Book," which provided in advance 
for every detail of the daily life, the duties of each ser- 
vant, the supplies for each department, and even the bill 
of fare for the whole year. 

This book, as kept for 1512, is still in existence, and 
throws a world of fight on the condition of the highest 
classes in England, in at least the first quarter of the 
sixteenth century, and in the rural districts it did not 


change much for very many years. In the first place, 
when the family moved from one castle to another they 
took all their furniture with them — a matter, however, of 
no great difficulty, for it was not bulky. There seem to 
have been no glass windows in either castle. The dishes 
in common use were made of wood, but for extraordi- 
nary occasions pewter ones were hired. The household's 
supply of linen consisted of nine table-cloths, " eight for 
my lord's table, and one for that of the knights." The 
w^hole allowance for the year's washing amounted to 
forty shillings, and that was mainly expended on the 
linen in the chapel. This "was not extravagant, but was 
large enough, in view of the fact that no sheets or pillow- 
cases were used, and probably none of the family wore 
underclothes, at least not any that ever went to the laun- 
dry.* This, to be sure, w^as in 1512 ; but I have already 
show^n w^hat Skipton Castle, the superb seat of the Earl 
of Cumberland, was in 1572. Viewing the accommo- 
dations in such mansions as these, ^neas Sylvius, the 
Italian traveller, remarked long before that the kings 
of Scotland -would rejoice to be as well lodged as the 
second class of citizens at E^uremberg.f 

Such, in the main, when Elizabeth ascended the throne, 
were the dwellings and their accommodations in the ru- 
ral part of England, which then contained a much larger 

* " The Northumberland Household Book," Preface, etc. 

t The new castles and baronial halls, which were erected in con- 
siderable numbers during the reign of Elizabeth, were of a different 
character from their predecessors, being much more fitted for com- 
fort. The improvement here, however, as in every other direction, 
was due to a foreign influence, which in this case came largely from 
Italy, although, as I shall show hereafter, much was owing to the 
Netlierlands. As to the Italian influence, see "Architecture of the 
Renaissance in England," by J. Alfred Gotch, 1891. 


proportion of the inhabitants than at present. The whole 
population of the country probably numbered less than 
three millions, of whom, perhaps, a hundred thousand 
lived in London, and there was no other town of any 
great size.* London itself, about the middle of the reign 
of Elizabeth, consisted of a coil of narrow, tortuous, un- 
seemly streets, each with a black, noisome rivulet run- 
ning through its centre, and with rows of three-storied, 
leaden-roofed houses, built of timber- work, filled in with 
lime, with man}^ gables, and with the upper stories over- 
hanging and darkening the basements. f These houses 
were stately, compared with those in the country, but 
they were not magnificent. 

But outside the city proper, especially along the single 
street which led by the river's strand to Westminster, 
were some newer mansions of a different character. 
These belonged to the nobles, who, greatly to the sor- 
row of their staid and conservative brethren, now flocked 
to court to enjoy the pleasures of the town, and pick 
up some of the fat contracts and lucrative monopolies 
which were showered on the royal favorites. Some few 
of these men lived in great splendor ; they had costly 
plate, superb tapestries, and magnificent pieces of furni- 
ture, gathered from every quarter of the globe, largely 
by the pirates with whom they were often associated in 
partnership. But this was, in the main, a barbaric splen- 

* la 1631, in tlie reign of Charles I., London had by actual count a 
little over 130,000 inhabitants. See article by Prof. Thorold Rogers 
in 2Vmefor March, 1890. 

t Motley's " United Netherlands," i. 311. In the reign of James I. 
brick first came into general use. Hume, Appendix, "James I." The 
paving of London began under Henry VIH. At the coronation of 
Elizabeth, the streets through which she passed were newly strewn 
with gravel. Strype's " Annals." 


dor, giving little evidence of civilization. Entering these 
mansions, one would appreciate the truth of Kirk's re- 
mark, that " the luxuries of life come before the com- 
forts." * For an illustration, let us look at the residence of 
the queen herself, which was the most magnificent of all. 
From the fourteenth century carpets had been in com- 
mon use among the upper classes, both in France and in 
the ISTetherlands, being laid on floors of enamelled tiles 
or thick squares of polished oak.f In 1598, Hentzner, 
the German traveller, went with the nobleman whom 
he accompanied as tutor to see Queen Elizabeth in her 
palace at Greenwich. This, the place of her birth, was 
her favorite residence, especially in summer. The queen 
appeared richly attired and loaded down with jewels, 
but the floors of the palace were covered with what ho 
calls hay, being probably rushes. A century before, 
Erasmus, writing of the habits of the people, to which 
he ascribed the frequency of the plague in England^ 
said of the houses : " The floors are commonly of clay^ 
strewed with rushes, under which lie unmolested an an 
cient collection of beer, grease, fragments, bones, spittle, 
and everything that is nasty." A hundred years, it 
seems, had made little change either in the covering of 
the floors or in its effects upon the public health, if we 
may judge from the continuance of the plague. Carpet- 
ing was used at this time in England, but was spread on 
the tables and not often on the floors. In the latter days 
of Elizabeth, according to Drake, linen was introduced to 
take its place.:]: This, however, is evidently a mistake, un- 
less reference is made to a general introduction, for " The 

* See p. 117. 

t La Croix, " The Arts in the Middle Ages," p. 27. 

J Nathan Drake, " Shakespeare and his Times," p. 40'?. 


Nortliurabeiiand Household Book" shows that a few 
table-cloths were used early in the century.* 

If table linen was used among the wealthy classes be- 
fore the end of the century, there was one piece of table 
furniture unknown till the reign of James I., and that 
was the fork. In France it had been known since 1379 ; f 
it was in common use among the Italians^ and presum- 
ably among the other Continental nations. In 1611, 
Thomas Coryat first introduced it into England, where 
even table-knives had not been in general use until 1563.§ 
Chaucer draws a very pretty picture of the Prioress at 
table : 

"At mete was she wel ytanghte witlialle; 
She lette no morsel from hire lippes falle, 
Ne wette hire fingres in hire sauce depe. 
Wel coude she carie a morsel, and wel kepe 
Tliatte no drope ne fell upon hire brest." 

This is all very charming in a poem of the fourteenth 
century; but probably we should change some of our 
ideas regarding the England of the sixteenth if we could 
look in upon the people, even of the upper classes, and 
see them dining perhaps off silver, but eating with their 
fingers and throwing the bones among the rushes on the 
floor. II 

Much has been said by imaginative writers about the 
great variety and abundance of food under which the 

* Wild Will DarrelFs washing bill in London, for three months in 
1589, has an item of one table-cloth and fourteen napkins ; but he 
wore a clean shirt every day, although no underclothes appear. 
Hall's "Elizabethan Society," p. 209. 

t La Croix, " The Arts in the Middle Ages," 

J Nathan Drake, p. 407. 

§ Ibid. 

I See Drake as to the dining-rooms of the country gentlemen. 


tables of the English people groaned in the Elizabethan 
age. And here again, as in the case of the dwellings, 
the rare exceptions have been taken for the rule. Some 
few of the nobles, according to Harrison — and the nobles 
themselves were few in number* — had French cooks, 
and they were supplied with a variety of fresh meats, a 
succession of game, fish, and fruits, with sweets of all 
descriptions. Among the wealthy merchants of the city, 
and especially in the days when piracy as a business 
was at its height, there was also, doubtless, a variety of 
food. But it would be a great mistake to suppose that 
any considerable body of the people indulged in any- 
thing but the plainest and most primitive of fare, al 
though this in most cases was found in great abun' 
dance, f 

* There were only fifty-seven peers when Elizabeth came to the 
throne, and sixty-six at the time of her death. 

t " Tillage was changed for pasture-grazing. Grain was dear and 
coarse meat was cheap. Bacon and fish went out of use. Game 
and poultry became luxuries, and vegetables were practically un- 
known. The people fed on salt beef, or roast and inferior mutton, 
with bad meal ; and this monotonous cheer they washed down with 
potent liquor." — Hall's "Elizabethan Society," p. 76. Vegetables 
were not introduced from the Netherlands until the next century. 
Some of tlie prices of the time, as found in the household accounts, 
for 1589, of Will Darrell, a wealthy commoner, may interest the 
reader. It should be remembered that the purchasing value of 
money was very much greater than at present. 


S. d. 

Sells wheat, per bushel 2 - 

" barley, " " 1 1|. 

Buys beef, per lb - i^ 

" 2 bushels of pease 4 2 

" 1 lb. of sugar 1 8 

" 6 lbs. of hops 3 - 


Even among the middle classes and the gentry the 
cheer was very different from that generally pictured 
in the popular imagination. With them salt fish, salt 


s. d. 

Buys i lb. of tobacco 80 - 

" 2 oz. of dates - 3 

" quire of paper - 4 

" a book - 6 

" a pound of candles - 4 

" a lemon.... - 1 

" oranges - 2 

" a quart of claret - 6 

" a pound of butter - 4 

" strawberries, 3 pyntes, May 23 -12 

" " 1 quart, June 11 - 6 

" pound of sugar - 17 

" a barrel of beer 4 - 

" a quart of cream - 6 

" " a pece of beef " -14 

" " a loyne of veale " -22 

" " a legg of mutton " -16 

Washing-bill, 3 months, self and servants, shirts, collars, handker- 
chiefs, nightkerchiefs, socks, 1 waistcoat, 5 sheets, 1 table-cloth, 14 
napkins, 17s. 5d. Hall. Turning these prices into our American 
currency at even four for one, and they would be about as follows : 
Wheat, per bushel, $2.00 ; beef, per pound, 12 cents ; hops, 48 cents ; 
sugar, $1.60; tobacco, $60; dates, $1.72; candles, 32 cents; butter, 
32 cents ; a quire of paper, 32 cents ; a lemon, 8 cents ; quart of 
claret, 48 cents ; strawberries in May, per quart, 64 cents ; in June, 
48 cents; a barrel of beer, $4.00 ; washing, 3 months, $16.72. It is 
very difficult to determine the relative purchasing value of money 
at different periods, but four to one is very low for this time. The 
best authorities give four to one for the days of the Commonwealth. 
"The Interregnum," by F. A. Inderwick, p. 245. In Elizabeth's 
reign the difference was probably much greater. For later prices, 
compare Hume, " Hist, of England," Appendix to chapters on James I. 


meat, bread, and ale made up, substantially, the bill of fare 
for at least nine months in the year. " The Northum- 
berland Household Book," for example, shows that in 
the family of that great earl they had fresh meat for 
only about three months — from midsummer to Michael- 
mas, the 29th of September. To enable them to swal- 
low the salt meat, on which they lived for the remainder 
of the year, one hundred and sixty gallons of mustard 
were provided.* 

One thing in regard to the tastes of the time is very 
suggestive, and that is the fondness for sweets, which 
was common to all classes. Sugar was a novelty to 
these islanders, and, having money for its purchase, they 
ran to the extravagance of children. The teeth of the 
women, including the queen, were black from over- 
indulgence in this luxury.f The men began to import 
sweet and other wines from Spain and Portugal, and, to 
the amazement of foreigners, they always mixed them 
with sugar.:}: 

As we study this people from various quarters, and 
apply to them every kind of test, we shall see how con- 
sistent is the picture in all its details : the picture of a 
people with great energy and poetic instincts, brought 
into contact with an elder civilization, and awakening 

* " The Northumberland Household Book " gives the bill of faroffor 
every member of the family, and some of its details are very curious. 
My lord and lady have for breakfast on fast-days a quart of beer, as 
much wine, a loaf of bread, two pieces of salt fish, six red herrings, 
four white ones, or a dish of sprats. On flesh days, half a chine of 
mutton, or a chine of beef boiled. The young lord has half a loaf 
of bread, a quart of beer, and two mutton bones. Will Darrell, 
while in London, in 1589, fared more sumptuously, but lived almost 
entirely on meats. See his daily bill of fare in Hall, p. 212, etc. 

t Hentzner's " Travels." f Drake, p. 409. 


to a new life. Look at the appearance of a gallant about 
the court. His beard will be cut so as to resemble a 
fan, a spade, or the letter T. He has great gold rings 
in his ears, set perhaps with pearls or diamonds. About 
his neck will possibly be a ribbon, on which he will 
string his other jewels for exhibition.'-'^' His dress ex- 
cites astonishment everywhere. He has no costume of 
his own, and so borrow^s from all his neighbors. Portia 
describes him, in speaking of Faulconbridge, the young 
baron of England : " How oddly he is suited ! I think 
he bought his doublet in Italy, his round hose in France, 
his bonnet in Germany, and his behavior everywhere." f 
IsTor was the female attire any less' remarkable. Its 
fashions, too, were borrowed from every quarter, and 
changed every year ; while the unmarried Avomen, copy- 
ing the example of the queen, who took great pride in 
her fine figure, decked themselves out in gowns with 
waists which, from their scantiness, would put to the 
blush the most hardened attendant of a modern court 

* Harrison's " Description of England ;" Drake, pp. 390, 397. 

t " Merchant of Venice," act i. sc. 2. Says a writer of tlie time : " I 
read of a painter that would paint every countryman in his ac- 
customed apparel — the Dutch, the Spaniard, the Italian, the French- 
man ; but when he came to the Englishman, he painted him naked, 
ai4l gave him cloth and bade him make it himself, for he changed 
his fashion so often that he knew not how to make it." — Becou's 
"Jewell of Joye." See also Fronde, v. 121. Harrison, in describ- 
ing the fantastic attire of the day, says " that except it were a dog 
in a doublet, you shall not see any one so disguised as are my 
countrymen in England. I have met with some of these trullesj 
in London, so disguised that it hath passed my skill to discover 
whether they were men or women." 

I Goadby's " England of Shakespeare," p. 63. See also Hentz- 
ner's description of the dress of Queen Elizabeth. 


But although foreign influences led at this time to 
much that was fantastic in feminine apparel,* they 
served one useful purpose, since they introduced the 
general wearing of linen fabrics to supplant the old un- 
dergarments made of wool. This came about through 
the teachings of the Netherland refugees, who were dis- 
tinguished, among other things, for their personal neat- 
ness, and who first taught the Englishwomen how to 
starch their ciothes.f 

If foreigners were astonished at the garb of the Eng- 
lishman, his fondness for sweets, and the appearance of 
his dwellings, they were no less affected by his rever- 
ence for the crown. So abject was Parliament in the 
time of Henry YIII. that when the king's name was 
mentioned the whole house stood up and bowed to the 
vacant throne. :|: But even this exhibition was surpassed 

* Meteren, quoted by Motley, " United Netherlands," i. 309. 

t " It was iu the year 1564 that Mrs. Dinghen van den Plasse, who 
was born at Teeueu, in Flanders, and was the daughter of a knight 
of that province, came to London with her husband for safety ; she 
was the first who taught starching in those days of impurity. Our 
historians go further, and condescend to inform us that her price 
was about five pounds to teach how to starch, and twenty pounds 
how to seethe starch ; and that in a little time she got an estate, 
being greatly encouraged by gentlemen and ladies." Burn's " For- 
eign Protestant Refugees," p. 189, quoting "an old writer." 

Stow, in his "Annals," adds : " Some very few of the best and most 
curious wives of that time, observing the neatness and delicacy of 
the Dutch for whiteness and fine wearing of linen, made them cam- 
bric rufis and sent them to Mrs. Dinghen to starch, and after a while 
they made them rufis of lawn, which was at that time a stufi" most 
strange and wonderful, and thereupon rose a general scofl' or by- 
word that shortly they would make rufi"s of a spider's web, and then 
they began to send their daughters and neatest kinswomen to Mrs. 
Dinghen to learn how to starch." 

X Green's " Short History," p. 355. 
I.— 22 


during the reign of Elizabeth. When Hentzner was at 
Greenwich Palace, he noticed that whoever spoke to 
the queen fell upon his knees, and that when she walked 
through the presence chamber, all the lords and ladies, 
as she looked in their direction, did the same. This was 
surprising enough, but much more was to come after- 
wards. He witnessed the setting of her dinner-table, 
and there saw this sight : " A gentleman entered the 
room bearing a rod, and along with him another who 
had a table-cloth, which, after they had both kneeled 
three times with the utmost veneration, he spread upon 
the table, and after kneeling again they both retired. 
Then came two others, one with the rod again, the other 
with a salt-cellar, a plate, and bread; when they had 
kneeled as the others had done, and placed what was 
brought upon the table, they too retired with the same 
ceremonies performed by the first. At last came an 
unmarried lady — we were told she was a countess— and 
along with her a married one, bearing a tasting-knife ; 
the former was dressed in white silk, who, when she 
had prostrated herself three times in the most graceful 
manner, approached the table and rubbed the plates 
with bread and salt, with as much awe as if the queen 
had been present." After this ceremony the dishes 
were brought in, tasted, and then carried to the private 
dining-room of her majesty.* 

Such genuflections before a table-cloth and salt-cellar 
betoken a remarkable condition of society. If these 
acts of reverence, which men usually reserve for their 
Creator, were thus performed before a scrap of linen 
and a piece of silver, because the queen was about to 

* Hentzner's " Travels." The tasting was to detect poison, and 
was not uncommon in other countries. 


use them, wliat must have been the awe with which 
the people looked upon the queen herself ! Giordano 
Bruno, the famous Italian philosopher, throws some 
light upon this question. He visited England in 1583, 
and remained two years. Subsequently, returning to 
Rome, he was accused of heresy and burned at the 
stake. One of the charges brought against him by the 
Inquisition was that he had described the heretical 
Elizabeth as a goddess. In reply, he said that in his 
book he praised the Queen of England, calling her a 
goddess, not in religion, but as an epithet given by the 
ancients to princes; and in England, where he wrote 
the book, it is their habit to give the title of goddess 
to the queen."'^ This goddess, as she appears to us in 
history, seems a strange divinity to worship ; but, after 
all, she was only a type of her people, and in her we 
can read their character.f 

The servility which characterized the time of Eliza- 
beth was not confined to the royal court. Erasmus, 
when in England, wrote to a friend saying that he would 

* " Life of Bruno," by Frith, p. 110. The courtiers around Eliza- 
beth had not studied the classics for nothing. When she is sixty, 
Raleighi thus speaks of her in a letter intended for her perusal : " I, 
that was wont to see her riding like Alexander, hunting like Diana, 
walking like Venus, the gentle wind blowing her fair hair about her 
pure cheeks like a nymph, sometimes sitting in the shade like a 
goddess, sometimes singing like an angel, sometimes playing like 
Orpheus ; behold the sorrow of this world : once amiss hath be- 
reaved me of all." 

t James I. dispensed with the genuflections of his courtiers ; but, 
still, he compared himself with the Saviour. " Christ had his John, 
and I have my George," referring to Buckingham. Abbot's " Bacon," 
p. 280. In a public proclamation issued in 1610, he speaks of kings 
and princes as " gods on earth." Taswell - Langmead's " Const. 
Hist, of England," p. 508. 


find the great people most agreeable and gracious, but 
warning him not to presume upon their intimacy, since 
they regarded themselves as gods.* A century later, 
the noble lord who serves his queen kneeling demands 
the same condescension from his inferiors when they 
wait on him. It is only when we appreciate the depth 
of this feeling that we can comprehend the force of the 
recoil in the next century, which, for a time, levelled all 
distinctions of rank and sent a monarch to the scaffold. 
With the Restoration the servility returns. Charles II., 
while at his meals, ostentatiously called Grammont's 
attention to the fact that his officers served him on 
their knees. Grammont, as unaccustomed to English 
cooking as to English manners, replied : " I thank your 
majesty for the explanation ; I thought they were beg- 
ging pardon for giving you so bad a dinner."f 

Hentzner, while in London, had an opportunity also 
of seeing some of the amusements of the city people. 
The favorite sports were bull-baiting, bear-baiting, and 
bear-whipping, for which a theatre was especially pro- 
vided. For baiting, the bull or bear was securely chained, 
and then set upon by dogs, who worried him to death. 
To witness this was a charming recreation, but it was 
thrown into the shade by the bear-beating, in which the 
unhappy brute, being chained to a post and blindfolded, 
was flogged to death with whips.:}: In this diversion 
there was little of the excitement which attends a bull- 
fight, where skill and nerve are required by the success- 

* " The noble lords are gods in tlieir own eyes." — " Times of Eras- 
mus and Lutlier ;" Fronde's " Short Studies," j). 69. 

t " Grammont's Memoirs," Bohn's ed. p. 25. This custom was 
not finally given up until the reign of George I. Lecky's " England 
in the Eighteenth Century," i. 239. 

I Hentzner's " Travels." 


ful matadore ; but if the bear made noise enough and was 
long enough in dying, the amusement must have been in- 
tense. ]N"or was it the masses alone that enjoyed these 
sports ; they were the particular delight of the nobles 
and of Queen Elizabeth herself. In fact, the Privy 
Council, in 1591, issued an order that no plays should he 
exhibited on Thursday, because on that day bear-baiting 
and such like pastime had been usually practised, "which 
are maintained for her majesty's pleasure." With them 
she entertained foreign ambassadors, and when she made 
her famous visit to Kenilworth, thirteen bears were pro- 
vided for her diversion, being baited with a large species 
of ban-dog.* It may be that the Puritan, when he abol- 
ished these exhibitions, cared nothing for the bear ; he 
certainly conferred a service on humanity by doing away 
with such brutalizing sights. f 

Having seen something of the Englishman's dwelling, 
his food, costume, manners, and sports, let us now con- 
sider his education, religion, and morals. 

And first we must notice that in regard to the learn- 
ing of this time a most exaggerated notion prevails in 
some quarters, the result of judging of a whole people 
from a few isolated individuals. Elizabeth had been 
brought up in comparative seclusion until she ascended 
the throne, at the age of twenty-five. Her father, despite 
his faults, was a friend of letters, and gave his daughters, 
who were in the line of succession to the throne, such an 
education as was fitted for an English monarch of the 

* Drake, p. 430. 

f In 1603, James I. by a proclamation prohibited bear-baiting and 
bull-baiting on the Sabbath. Strype's "Annals," iv. 379. The bull- 
baiting was re-established after the Restoration, and continued to be 
a favorite amusement all through the eighteenth century. Lecky, 
1. 598. 


day. That Elizabeth should have spoken four or five 
languages is of itself little proof of intellectual cultiva- 
tion. All the better class of Russians do the same to- 
day, while couriers and boys brought up in such polyglot 
centres as Constantinople often speak ten or twelve. 

But, apart from this, the queen carried to the throne a 
love of the classics, which she retained all through her 
life. She read and translated the Latin authors, and, 
what was more rare in England, she also read Greek. 
In addition, she made these studies fashionable at court, 
so that several other ladies pursued them with success. 
Judging in a loose, general way from these well-known 
facts, many persons reason that if the women of that 
day had such accomplishments, the acquisitions of the 
men must have been phenomenal. But here is the mis- 
take. Elizabeth, in her education, as in many of her 
traits of character, was more of a man than a woman.* 
Roger Ascham, her Greek teacher, said, though perhaps 
panegyrically, that she devoted more time to reading 
and study than any six gentlemen of her court, and that 
she read more Greek with him at Windsor Castle every 
day than some prebendaries of the Church read Latin, in 
a week.f 

* Sir Eobert Cecil said of her that she " was more than a man, and 
(in troth) somtyme less than a woman." — Harrington's "Nugse An- 
tiquse," i. 345, Letters of 1603. 

t Roger Ascham's " Scholemaster," p. 63, Mayor's ed., 1863. A 
specimen of the English written by Elizabeth is given in the follow- 
ing prayer, which she composed in 1597 : 

" Oh God, Almaker, keeper, and guider, inurement of thy rare 
seen, unused, and seel'd heard of goodness poured in so plentiful a 
sort upon us full oft, breeds now this boldness to crave with bowed 
knees and hearts of humility thy large hand of helloing power, to 
assist with wonder our just cause, not founded on pride's motion, or 
begun on malice stock, but, as thou best knowest, to whom nought 


It is from her reputation for learning, with that of a 
few ladies of her court, and some of the men distin- 
guished in civil life, such as Smith, Sadler, and Ealeigh, 
that, as the iconoclastic Hallam says, " the general char- 
acter of her reign has been, in this point of view, con- 
siderably overrated."''^ Such learning as existed in the 
island was confined almost exclusively to the classics, 
which the people of the Continent, and especially the 
Italians, had been cultivating for two centuries.f Of 

is hid, grounded ou just defence from wrongs, hate, and bloody de- 
sire of conquest, for since means thou hast imparted to save that 
thou has given by enjoying such a people as scorns their bloodshed, 
■where surety ours is one. Fortify, dear God, such hearts in such sort 
as their best part maybe worst, that to the truest part meant worse, 
with least loss to such a nation as depise their lives for their country's 
good ; that all foreign lands may laud and admire the omnipotency 
of thy works, a fact alone for thee only to perform. So shall thy 
name be spread for wonders wrought, and the faithful encouraged to 
repose in thy unfellqwed grace; and we that minded nought but 
right, enchained in thy bonds for perpetual slavery, and live and die 
the sacrifisers of our souls for such obtained favors. Warrant, dear 
Lord, all this witli thy command." — Strj'pe, " Annals," iv. 440. 

Those persons who, from the flatterers of Elizabeth, have formed a 
high opinion of her literary attainments, may, with considerable 
profit, study this production, which is given just as she wrote it for 
public use in the churches, free from the emendations of modern edi- 
tors. If she wrote and sjDoke other languages in the same manner, 
she might, without great eifort, have mastered a large number. 

* Hallam's " Literature of Europe," ii. 39. Again, speaking of the 
Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primate of the English Church, the 
same author remarks : " Whitgift was not of much learning, if it be 
true that, as the editors of the ' Biographia Britannica ' intimate, he 
had no acquaintance with tlie Greek language. This must seem 
strange to those who have an exaggerated notion of the scholarship 
of that age."— Hallam's " Const. Hist.," i. 202, note. 

t The Continental scholars at this time, in addition to Greek and 
Latin, were cultivating Hebrew, Chaldee, Arabic, etc. See last chapter. 


science the English knew abnost nothing, and even the 
study of the simpler branches of mathematics was repro- 
bated by men like Ascham.* 

Bruno, when he visited England in 1583, met most of 
the men who were accounted scholars. He expounded 
to them the theory that the earth revolves around the 
sun, but he made few converts. Going to Oxford, he 
describes the Dons, who were court nominees, as " men 
arrayed in long robes of velvet, with hands most precious 
for the multitude of precious stones on their fingers, 
golden chains about their necks, and with manners as 
void of courtesy as cowherds." The students were igno- 
rant, boorish, and indevout, occupied in horse-play, drink- 
ing, and duelling, toasting in ale-houses, and graduating 
in the noble science of self-defence.f The learned Italian 
lectured at the university on the immortality of the soul 
and other kindred subjects, and was near coming to 
blows with the pedagogues, who were slenderly endowed 
Avith arguments. He found them armed, not with pru- 
dence and power, but with "hearts that died of cold, and 
learning that died of hunger." Eeturning to London, he 
met a little circle of congenial spirits, and formed with 
them a society, in imitation of the Italian academies, 
which numbered among its members Sidney, Greville, 
Dyer, and Temple.;]: 

* "The Scholemaster," pp. 14, 210. 

t The examination for a degree was merely nominal. A man 
might graduate from a university, and yet be almost illiterate. Hal- 
lam's " Literature in Europe," ii. 308. 

I Fritli's "Life of Bruno," pp. 121, 125, 128. Still, after Bruno's 
visit, England produced three scientific men, of whom any country 
might be proud— Harvey, Gilbert, and Hariott. All, however, had 
pursued their studies on the Continent. 


After leaving England, Bruno went to Germany, where 
he resided for several years. For the learning which he 
found there, the readiness to entertain new ideas, the de- 
votion to art, and the general kindliness of the people, he 
was filled with unbounded admiration. Speaking of tlie 
seven branches of university education, he called them 
the seven pillars of wisdom. On these pillars, he said, 
wisdom built her home, first in Egypt, then in Persia 
under Zoroaster, next in India, then in Thrace, Greece, 
and Italy, and finally in Germany.* 

Before leaving the subject of scientific education in 
England, we may well pause for a moment to consider 
an event which occurred in the year preceding Bruno's 
arrival — an event Avhich forms a landmark in history, 
and the reception of which among the English is of 
great significance. 

When Julius Csesar made his famous reform of the 
calendar, the scientific men of Kome calculated that the 
year consisted of three hundred and sixty-five days and 
a quarter, and they therefore provided for the addition 
of a day in every fourth year. After some sixteen cen- 
turies this calculation was found to be slightly erroneous, 
and for some time the scholars of Italy had been work- 

* " Since the empire has been in this land," he says, " more genius 
and art is to be met with than among other nations." Again, he re- 
marks that there is something "truly divine in the spirit of that 
nation." These and other remarks of a like character in Bruno's 
writings, showing the contrast between England and Germany in 
the sixteenth century, before the devastation of the Thirty Years' 
War wiped out German civilization, seem to have escaped the notice 
of the English biographer of the great Italian. Some of them will 
be found quoted in an article on Bruno, by Karl Blind, in the Nine- 
teenth Century for July, 1889. See also as to England, Whewell's 
" History of the Inductive Sciences," article " Bruno." 


ing over the problem of its correction. Finally, in 1581, 
they solved the problem, arrived at the exact length 
of the solar year — within some thirty seconds — and 
discovered that the world was ten days behind the 
true time. Accordingly, Pope Gregory XIII. issued 
a proclamation, which provided for dropping these ten 
days in October, 1582, and also pointed out to future 
generations that by the omission of three days in each 
four hundred years thereafter all substantial errors 
would be obviated. In the ISTetherland states, ruled by 
the Prince of Orange, this reform was at once adopted. 
Already they had changed the day for beginning the 
new year from the 25th of March to the 1st of Janu- 
ary.* And now, however they might differ from Italy 
in questions of religion, they purposed to keep touch in 
mere scientific matters. 

The English, however, who knew and cared nothing 
about astronomy, saw no necessity for an alteration of 
the calendar. For nearly two centuries thereafter their 
country occupied towards the greater part of Europe 
the position in this matter which semi-barbarous Eussia 
holds to day. It was not until 1752 that, by an act of 
Parliament, her calendar was corrected by the omission 
of the superfluous days, and that the beginning of the 
legal year was fixed at the 1st of January instead of at 
the 25th of March. Hence, during this whole period we 
have to calculate the dates in English, as compared with 
those in Continental history, by changing them from 
Old to New Style. The preamble to the act of Par- 
liament by which the change was finally brought about 
in England reads as if a great discovery had just been 

* Davies's "Holland," ii. 30; Brodhead's "Hist, of New York," 
i. 443. 


made. It begins : " Whereas, the Julian calendar hath 
been discovered to be erroneous, by means whereof the 
spring equinox, which at the Council of Nice, a. d. 325, 
happened on the 21st of March, now happens on the 
tenth day of the same month ; and the said error is still 
increasing." Then follows the enactment providing for 
dropping eleven days in September and for beginning 
the next legal year with the 1st of January. It took 
nearly two centuries for the Parliament of England to 
discover that the Julian calendar was erroneous, but 
even then it displayed great courage in correcting the 
mistake. The people could not understand the matter, 
and complained bitterly that their rulers were robbing 
them of a portion of their lives. In fact, as is shown 
by Hogarth's picture of the "Election Entertainment" 
— engraved in 1755 — "Give us our eleven days," be- 
came a regular party cry of the opposition.* 

Such was the condition of learning at the English 
universities, and among the highest classes at the court 
while Elizabeth was on the throne. A few scholars, very 
few in number, studied Latin and Greek imperfectly and 

* It is interesting to notice the way in which the matter of reform- 
ing the calendar in England is treated by modern English writers, 
who, in this as in most other matters, overlook the comparative 
backwardness of their forefathers, and so, by insinuation if not 
directly, atti'ibute the delay to the intense Protestantism of the 
country Avhich objected to a measure originating with the pope. But 
Scotland, much more intensely Protestant, which was under the in- 
fluence of Continental scholars, reformed her calendar in 1600, and 
Denmark and Sweden, the last of the Protestant states in 1700, more 
than half a century before England took her action. It is greatly 
to the credit of Lord Burghley that he urged the adoption of the 
change in England when it was first introduced upon the Continent. 
Strype's " Annals," ii. 355. 


little else. Of the poets I shall speak hereafter, when 
I come to discuss the outburst of national energy which 
followed the destruction of the Spanish Armada ; but it 
may be noticed here that in prose literature nothing of 
any importance appeared until the publication, in 1594, 
of the first four books of Hooker's " Ecclesiastical Pol- 
ity." Up to that date England was about as barren of 
prose authors as of scholars.* 

Taking it all in all, this is not a lofty nor an extensive 
elevation, but it springs from a valley very dark and 
deep. Looking at the intellectual condition of the people 
at large, we shall find that it corresponds with every- 
thing else which we have noticed in their life. In 1547, 
only eleven years before Elizabeth ascended the throne. 
Parliament passed a law, giving the benefit of clergy to 
peers of the realm who should be convicted of certain 
crimes, even though they could not read.f If some of 
the peers of the realm, only about sixty in number, did 
not know their letters, what should we expect of the 
men next below them ? The fact is, that in the rural 
districts to read and write were esteemed rare accom- 
plishments all through the reign of Elizabeth, and, even 
among the gentry below the first degree, there was 
little difference in literary accomplishments between the 
master and his boorish attendants.:}: 

* Hallam's ''Const. Hist.," i. 217. "It must be owned by every 
one, not absolutely blinded by a love of scarce books, that the prose 
literature of the queen's reign, taken generally, is but very mean." — 
Hallam's " Literature of Europe," ii. 256. 

1 1 Edward VI., cap. 12. 

I Drake, p. 210. In the time of James I., as Burton tells us, 
though tliere was a sprinkling of the gentry, here and there one, ex- 
cellently well learned, yet the major part were bent wholly on hawks 


When noAV we descend one step lower, we reach a 
class almost wholly illiterate. Shakespeare's father be- 
longed to this order. He was High-bailiff of Stratford, 
but could not even write his name; neither could the 
poet's daughter Judith, nor even the eldest daughter of 
the immortal Milton.- Out of nineteen aldermen in 
Stratford, when Shakespeare was born, 1564, only six 
could write their names.f Nor was this ignorance con- 
fined to the laymen. In 1578, according to JSTeal, out of 
one hundred and forty clergymen in Cornwall belong- 
ing to the Established Church, not one was capable of 
preaching, and throughout the kingdom those who 
could preach were in the proportion of about one to 

and hounds, " and carried away many times with intemperate lust, 
gaming, and drinking." If they read a book at any time, "'tis an 
English Chronicle, Sir Huon of Bordeaux, Amadis de Gaule, etc., a 
play book, or some pamphlet of news, and that at seasons only when 
they cannot stir abroad." — Burton's "Anatomy of Melancholy," 
fol. ed. p. 84. Even in the reign of James II., the average coun- 
try squire had not made much improvement. "Many lords of 
manors," says Macaulay, " had received an education differing little 
from that of their menial servants. The heir of an estate often 
passed his boyhood and youth at the seat of his family, with no 
better tutors than grooms and gamekeepers, and scarce attained 
learning enough to sign his name to a mittimus." — Macaulay's 
"Hist, of England," chap. iii. These were tlie men who, elected 
to Parliament, formed the House of Commons. But if they knew 
little of books, they had some fixed ideas regarding civil freedom. 

* Drake, p. 629. Masson's " Milton," vi. 447. Milton's younger 
daughters, after his blindness, read to him books in various foreign 
languages, but they did not understand a word of what they read. 
"Memoir of ^lilton," by his nephew, Edward Phillips, 1694. 

t Knight. 

I Neal's "History of the Puritans." Hallam says that "this may 
be deemed by some an instance of Neal's prejudice. But that his- 


It is very interesting, while on the subject of educa- 
tion, to compare the English people in the time of Eliza- 
beth with their ancestors three hundred years earher, be- 
fore the ISTorman influence had disappeared. The Eev. 
Dr. Jessopp, an eminent English antiquarian, has re- 
cently discovered a great mass of documents relating 
to Rougham, a small parish in I^orfolk, from which its 
continuous history can be traced for the past six cen- 
turies. In an essay entitled " Yillage Life Six Hundred 
Years Ago," to which brief allusion has been made in 
the last chapter, he gives an account of this parish in 
the days of Edward I. So far as the general mode of 
life, the dwellings of the people, their occupations, and 
their morality are concerned, this account might be 
taken for a description of a rural parish in the time of 
Elizabeth, as portrayed by the writers of the latter pe- 
riod. In scarcely one particular is an improvement visi- 
ble, while in some directions there was a great deteriora- 
tion. Six hundred years ago the farms were all very 
small, in this parish never exceeding two hundred acres, 
and were cultivated by a class of yeomen who, although 
nominally tenants, as every one was under the feudal 
system, were in fact the substantial owners of the soil. 

But the most remarkable f alling-off was in the matter 
of education, and the results of the researches of the an- 
tiquarian in relation to this subject may astonish those 
persons who have been accustomed to regard the prog- 
ress of the English people as continuous. The parish 
which Dr. Jessopp investigated contained less than 
three thousand acres, and ^vas purely agricultural. It 

torian is not so ill-informed as they suppose ; and the fact is highly 
probable." "The majority of the clergy were nearly illiterate." — 
" Const. Hist.," i. 303. 


had a village church, but no monastery, abbey, or other 
religious house to attract ecclesiastics. And yet he 
found, by the records, that during the reign of Edward I. 
there were at the same time eight, and probably ten or 
twelve, persons in this little parish who knew how to 
write w^ell. He ventures the opinion, from his investi- 
gations in various quarters, that, in proportion to the 
inhabitants, the number of persons who could wa^ite had 
not increased in England during the last six centuries, 
until about forty years ago.* 

Such being the state of education among the subjects 
of " Good Queen Bess," what shall we say of religion 
and morality ? If there is no more connection between 
moral and intellectual development than some persons 
imagine, w^e might expect this people to be at least de- 
vout and moral. Let us see W'hat w^ere the facts. In 
the first place, as to religion, looking only at the sur- 
face, it seemed to many persons as if there were none in 
the land. The revival of learning at court w^as, as Taine 

* "The Coming of the Friars, and otlier Historical Essays," by 
the Rev. Augustus Jessopp, D.D. ( G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1889). 
Prof. Thorold Rogers states that there was no improvement in 
English agriculture from the reign of Edward I. to that of Eliz- 
abeth, and that probably less land was under cultivation at the 
latter date. Time^ March, 1890. John Foster, in his work on 
" Popular Ignorance," makes some very just remarks on the deg- 
radation and illiteracy of the English people at large, amoiig 
whom flourished the Intellectual chiefs who have given a facti- 
tious character to the Elizabethan age. He also uses very trencli- 
ant language in relation to tlie governing classes of that country, 
who, until a very recent date, allowed " an incalculable and ever- 
increasing tribe of human creatures to grow up in a condition to 
show what a wretched and offensive thing is human nature left to 
itself." See Bohn's ed., 1856, Preface, and p. 63, etc. 


has well said, a pure Pagan Eenaissance. The authors 
read were the Greek and Latin classics, or the poets and 
story-tellers of Italy, who in the main were as irrelig- 
ious as they were immoral. Here and there might be 
found a noble who had some notions of religion, but, al- 
though from the queen down they all talked about it, 
the earnest believers were rarely found in the upper 
circles. One of them Avas the Earl of Essex, whose 
widow married Leicester. He died, in 1576, like a 
patriot and a Christian, his last thoughts being turned 
towards his country and his God. " He prayed much 
for the noble realm of England," said a bystander, " for 
which he feared many calamities." Of his countrymen 
he said : " The Gospel had been preached to them, but 
they were neither Papists nor Protestants ; of no religion, 
but full of pride and iniquity. There was nothing but 
infidelity, infidelity, infidelity ; atheism, atheism ; no 
religion, no religion." * 

Well might the dying earl take a gloomy view of the 
religious situation. In many of the dioceses at least a 
third of the parishes had no clergymen at all.f Where 
the livings were filled, the incumbents, in a majority of 
cases, were nearly illiterate, and often addicted to drunk- 
enness and other low vices.:}: As the patrons, under the 
remarkable system which still prevails in England, se- 
lected the clergymen, and often chose their bakers, 
butlers, cooks, or stablemen to fill the sacred office, 

* Froude, xi. 230. t Idem, vii. 477. 

t Hallam's " Const. Hist.," i. 203 ; Hall, p. 105. As I shall show in 
a subsequent chapter, this condition of the Church was largely the 
result of excluding from the pulpits the most learned and diligent 
of the clergy because of their Puritanism. They were doing work 
in other quarters. 


while they took the income, we need not wonder at 
anything which is related of them." 

Above the clergymen stood the bishops, and many of 
them were mere time-serving politicians, anxious only to 
lay up a fortune for themselves and their families. This 
is not remarkable in view of their relations to the new 
establishment. When Aylmer, for example, preached 
before Elizabeth and dared to denounce the extrava- 
gance of the court in the matter of apparel, his mistress 
threatened, if he repeated the offence, to send him at 
once to heaven, but without his head.f After such a 
lesson it is not probable that many persons were offend- 
ed by hearing criticism of their vices from priest or 
bishop. Of course all of the Established clergy Avere 
not corrupt or sensual. There were always among them 
men distinguished for their piety and virtue. But these, 
like the scholars, were so few in number as hardl}^ to 
produce an impression on the mass of the community, 
without the aid of some outside influence such as that 
which had developed England in the past. 

Considering now the question of morality, we find 
the picture nearly, if not quite, as dark — becoming darker, 
too, in some of its features, as time went on — and for the 
causes we have not far to seek. The spoils of the mon- 
asteries amounted, perhaps, to one fifth of the kingdom's 
wealth. All this colossal plunder had been suddenly 
thrown over to a horde of courtiers, unrestrained by any 

* Drake speaks of the tales of their gross debauchery, to say notli- 
ing of the charges brought against them of perjury and man- 
slaughter. " Shakespeare and his Times," p. 44, citing Harrison and 
the Talbot Papers. 

t See as to the bishops, Hallam's " Const. Plist.," i. 226 ; Hall, p. 
105 ; Froude, xii. 21. See also Chapter IX. for a fuller discussion of 
this subject. 

I.— 23 


religious principle. The demoralization soon worked 
down to the masses, all forms of industry being disorgan- 
ized, and society being disturbed to its very foundations. 
At the same time, the commerce of the world had made 
great strides, so that the ocean carried on its bosom 
incalculable treasures. Like their Saxon and Danish 
ancestors, the English, in the main, despised the men 
whose labors created this new wealth, but they took 
their share of it by becoming, what those ancestors had 
been, a race of corsairs. Secure in their rock-bound 
island fortress, and protected by the wars which engrossed 
the whole attention of their neighbors, they plundered 
friend and foe alike, and heaped up cargoes of costly 
fabrics, gold, silver, and precious stones, as in a pirates' 
cave.* Rioting in such plunder by land and sea, we 
need not marvel at the modes in which they displayed 
their gains, nor at the immorality which seemed for a 
time to taint almost every class in the community. 

Before looking at the evidence of this immorality, let 
us see what intelligent foreign observers of three centu- 
ries ago thought about this and other kindred subjects. 
Says Hentzner, writing in 1598 : " The English are seri- 
ous, like the Germans, lovers of show, liking to be fol- 
lowed wherever they go by troops of servants, who Avear 
their master's arms in silver, fastened to their left sleeves, 
and are justly ridiculed for wearing tails hanging down 
their back. They are good sailors, and better pirates, 
cunning, treacherous, thievish." f 

Meteren, the learned Antwferp historian, who lived 
many years in London, thus describes some of their traits 
at about the same period : " As a people, they are stout- 

* In the next chapter I shall have much more to say about these 
corsairs. t Hentzner's " Travels." 


hearted, vehement, eager ; cruel in war, zealous in attack, 
little fearing death ; not revengeful, but fickle ; presump- 
tuous, rash, boastful, deceitful ; very suspicious, especially 
of strangers, whom they despise. They are full of court- 
eous and hypocritical gestures and words, which they 
consider to imply good manners, civility, and wisdom. 
The people are not so laborious as the French and Hol- 
landers, preferring to live an indolent hfe, like the Span- 
iards. The most difficult and ingenious of the handicrafts 
are in the hands of foreigners, as is the case with the 
lazy inhabitants of Spain. They feed many sheep, with 
fine wool, from which, two hundred years ago, they 
learned to make cloth. They keep many idle servants, 
and many wild animals for their pleasure, instead of cul- 
tivating the soil. They have many ships but do not 
even catch fish enough for their own consumption, but 
purchase of their neighbors. When they go away from 
home, riding or travelling, they always wear their best 
clothes, contrary to the habit of other nations." * 

In these accounts we see the descendants of Benve- 
nuto Cellini's " English savages " of the century before, 
picturesque, full of interest, but as yet httle touched by 

Judging from what they saw in London and about 
the court, the foreigners were right who thought the 
English very deficient in moral sense. Consider, first, 
the character of the woman on the throne. She could 
not tell the truth ; in fact, her lies were so transparent 
that, although sometimes perplexing, they deceived no 
one.f Of good faith she had no conception, for she be- 

* Emanuel Van Meteren, " History of the Netherlands," quoted 
by Motley, "United Netherlands," i. 307, etc. 
t Froude, Green, Creighton, etc. 


trayed, or attempted to betray, every one that trusted 
her. If her people were dishonest, they but followed 
her example. She was a partner of the pirates who, 
sailing from the ports of England, infested every sea ; 
and even her partners she defrauded when it came 
to a division of the plunder.* We are told that profan- 
ity was then so common among the masses of England 
that if they spoke but three or four words, yet an oath 
or two would be mingled with them.f In this, too, the 
monarch, and that monarch a woman, set them the ex- 
ample. 'Nor were her expletives mere fanciful and pict- 
uresque ornaments of speech. She used good mouth- 
filling oaths, such as she had learned from her father, 
Bluff King Hal.:]: She put them into her letters, too, 
even when addressing a high dignitary of the Church. 
To Cox she wrote : " Proud prelate ! you know what 
you were before I made you what you are ; if you do 
not immediately comply with my request, by God I wiU 
unfrock you ! Elizabeth." § 

The question of the queen's relations with her lovers 
is a controverted one, into which we need not enter, f 
But there is no room for doubt as to the character of 
the men and women by whom she was surrounded. 

* Froude, xi. 428. t Drake, p. 423, 

f Her favorite oath was, "By God's Son," whicli she used as "fre- 
quently as a fish-woman." — " Nugge Antiquee," i. 354. 

§ Hallam's " Const. Hist.," i. 226. 

II " It is true that some, not prejudiced against Elizabeth, have 
doubted whether ' Cupid's fiery dart ' was as efiiectually ' quenched 
in the chaste beams of the watery moon ' as her poet intimates. This 
I must leave to the reader's judgment. She certainly went strange 
lengths of indelicacy." — Hallam's " Const. Hist.," i. 155. Froude, who 
has made a most careful examination of the subject, acquits her, how- 
ever, of what the world calls dishonor. Froude, xii. 521. 


Faunt, secretary of Sir Francis Walsingham, in a letter 
dated August 1st, 1582, says of Elizabeth's court : " The 
only discontent I have is to live where there is so little 
godliness and exercise of religion, so dissolute manners 
and corrupt conversation generally, which I find to be 
worse than when I knew the place first." The next 
year he writes that it is a place where all enormities are 
practised, where sin reigns in the highest degree.'^' Sir 
John Harrington, in his private diary for 1594, describes 
it as the abode not of love, but of " the lustie god of gal- 
lantry, Asmodeus."t The remarks of Faunt have some- 
times been attributed to his extreme Puritanism ; but 
Harrington, a courtier and Elizabeth's godson, was no 
Puritan, and all the authorities agree as to the decline 
of private morals during the reign of the " Virgin Queen." 

Mary, surnamed the Bloody, with all her religious in- 
tolerance, was austere in her morals, and her court was, 
in that respect, a model for the world,:}: Elizabeth, for 
a few years, followed her example, the early Reformers 
by whom she was surrounded being, for the most part, 
men of exemplary private lives. But, as time went on, 
a marked change for the worse came over the morals of 
the court and nation. It is not necessary to agree with 
Hallam in attributing this moral decadence to Puritan- 
ism, since this seems to have been an effect, and not a 
cause, of the change ; but in regard to the fact of the de- 
cadence ending in the grossest immorality, which in the 
next reign surpassed anything ever before known in 
English history, there can be no question. § 

* Birch, "Memoirs of tlie Reign of Elizabeth," i. 25, 29. 
t " Nugse Antiquse," i. 166. I Lingard, vi. 195. 

§ " We may easily perceive, in the literature of the later period of 
the queen, what our biographical knowledge confirms, that much of 


Such was the state of morals among the courtiers 
around the queen. Possibly the reader looks for some- 
thing better among the gentry and the common people. 
But here the story is little different. Every one knows 
the tale of Wild Will Darrell — perhaps apocryphal, how- 
ever — how he murdered his new-born babe by holding it 
on the burning coals until it was reduced to ashes, and 
then bought immunity from punishment by an enor- 
mous bribe. Speaking of him. Hall says : "It was, in- 
deed, as common for men of his class to debauch their 
neighbors' wives as for two yeomen to draw on each 
other at a country fair, or for a craftsman to be butch- 
ered by his fellow at Smithfield. The atonement for 
blood or dishonor done was trivial if it were not ex- 
acted on the spot. The offender could be reached 
best through his purse; he bribed the law and es- 
caped, or, at the worst, he was disfranchised for a year 
or two." '-^ 

the austerity characteristic of her earlier years had vanished away. 
The course of time, the progress of vanity, the prevalent dislike, 
above all, of the Puritans, avowed enemies of gayety, concurred to 
this change. . . . The most distinguished courtiers, Raleigh, Essex, 
Blount, and we must add Sidney, were men of brilliant virtues, but 
not without license of morals ; wliile many of the wits and poets, 
such as Nash, Greene, Peele, Marlowe, were notoriously of very dis- 
solute lives." Hallam's "Literature of Europe," ii. 193. See as to 
Leicester's matrimonial experiences " Biographia Britanuica," article 
"Robert Dudley;" "Diet, of National Biography," article "Christo- 
pher Blount ;" " The Puritans and Queen Elizabeth," by Samuel 
Hopkins, i. 273, iii. 224. As to his step-daughter. Sir Philip Sidney's 
" Stella," and her relations with Sidney and her later lover, " Diet, of 
National Biography," article " Charles Blount," and Hall's " Society 
in the Elizabetlian Age," p. 92. As to Raleigh, Aiken's " Court of 
Queen Elizabeth;" Strype's "Annals," iv. 139. For a summary of 
the general condition of morals, see Hall, p. 104, etc. 
* " Society in the Elizabethan Age," p. 11. 


It has been the fashion among people who dishke the 
Puritans to make hght of the excesses of this age, and 
to revile the men who did away with the lively sports 
of Merry England. One of these was the May Festival, 
which seems so charming in the mellowed distance. 
The night before the 1st of May, the whole rural popu- 
lation went into the woods together, men, women, and 
children, old and young, and passed the time in games 
and sport. On the morrow they returned with the May- 
pole, borne by oxen ornamented with ribbons and flowers, 
and on the ground strewn with green boughs they feast- 
ed and danced till evening. But, beautiful as is this pict- 
ure when elaborated by the poets, the Puritans made no 
more of a mistake about May-day than about the bear- 
baiting, which they also abolished. This and other festi- 
vals were, in fact, like the Saturnalia of pagan Rome, 
sanctioning by custom the practice of the grossest de- 
bauchery.* Hentzner, the sober German, looked on all 
of them with amazement. " On Shrove Tuesday," said 
he, " at the sound of a bell the folk become insane, thou- 
sands at a time, and forget all decency and common 
sense. It is to Satan and the devil that they pay 
homage, and do sacrifice in these abominable pleas- 
ures." Does one wonder that earnest men, when they 
began to look at life seriously, put down such abomi- 
nations ? 

It is possible that the people of the rural districts 
were not more dissolute than their fathers and grandfa- 
thers had been. Still, the breaking-down of all religious 
restraints, including the confessional, must have weak-, 
ened the average morality. But in the cities and among 

* See as to their immorality, Stubbe's "Anatomic of Abuses" 
(1583), p. 168, etc., quoted in Taine's "English Literature." 


the wealthy classes, even outside the court, the change 
for the worse was very marked, Ascham attributed it 
largely to the influence of Italy, and he was doubtless 
correct to some extent. The English youth went there 
now, not, as the scholars in the century before had gone, 
to study Greek, but to graduate in the vices which an ad- 
vancing civilization was carrying to perfection. Around 
them were works of art such as the world had not seen 
since the days of Phidias, but for art they cared as little 
as for learning. Their natures could, with a few illus- 
trious exceptions, like Sidney and Milton at a much later 
day, take in only the grossest forms of sensual enjoy- 
ment ; and for these, with their newly acquired wealth, 
they manifested the keenest avidity. The Italian prov- 
erb pithily summed up the situation, '• An Italianated 
Englishman is an incarnate devil," * 

But the men who went to Italy were few in numbers, 
and their influence was limited. A greater corrupter 
was the Italian books, now for the first time translated 
into English and sold in every London shop. These, we 
must remember, were not of the class represented by the 
" Divine Comedy " of Dante, but were tales of which 
those in the " Decameron " were perhaps the least ob- 
jectionable. Poor Ascham, in writing of this literature, 
seems almost to lose heart. In our forefathers' time, he 
says, few books were read in English but certain works 
of chivalry, in which the chief pleasure lay in man- 

* " The Scholemaster," p. 78. Lord Burgbley, in a letter to his 
son, said : " And suffer not thy sons to pass the Alps ; for they shall 
learn nothing there but pride, blasphemy, and atheism. And if by 
travel they get a few broken languages, they will profit them not 
more than to have meat served in divers dishes." — Strype's "An- 
nals" iv. 341. 


slaughter and the violation of the seventh command- 
ment. They were bad enough, and yet ten such works 
did not one tenth of the mischief wrought by one of 
these poems or tales made in Italy and translated in 
England, l^either the lay nor the clerical authorities 
would do anything to arrest this curse, but he, the 
simple schoolmaster, could not sit still and hold his 

Fortunately, there were some earnest men in England 
who sympathized with Ascham. They were as yet few 
in number, and never made up anything like a majority 
of the population ; but in the next century, through dis- 
cipline and courage, they will capture the government, 
and for a time corrupting sports and books will go. 
Then will come the Eestoration and the consequent re- 
action ; the English upper classes w^ill be brought into 
contact with the French, and will absorb from them, as 
from the Italians a century before, little but their vices. 
These vices, engrafted on uncultivated natures, will make 
the court of Charles II. such a scene of open immoral- 
ity as the modern world has rarely known. Then, slow- 
ly, the seeds sown by the Puritans will begin to bear 
fruit, until we have the England of the nineteenth cen- 
tury, with all its virtues, real and imputed. 

Fortunately for America, republican Holland was a 
country of good morals, where, according to Guicciar- 
dini, the marriage vow was held in honor. Her people 
gave a tone to the middle colonies of America. The 
others were settled by Englishmen from the middle 
classes, who left their homes when Puritanism was in 
the ascendant, and happily they brought with them 
strict notions about the relation of the sexes. Some of 

" The Scholemaster," pp. 79, 80, etc. 


these men have been ridiculed for their austerity, but 
they and their brothers whom they left behind them 
cannot be understood unless we realize the condition of 
society against which they protested, not only by their 
words but by their lives. 




The last chapter dealt with Elizabethan England 
mainly from its domestic and social side. Let us now 
see how the men of this time look from another point 
of view. And first we will consider those in public life. 

A few figures stand out in the Elizabethan era which 
would do honor to any age ; chief among these are 
Burghley and Walsingham. It is fortunate for Eng- 
land and for the world that these men lived ; it is 
largely to them that England owes her greatness. They 
were patriots, pure of life, incorruptible, w^orking for 
their country, and not for self. Burghley was wealthy, 
but in his own right ; from the queen he did not receive 
enough, he said, to cover his expenses.* "VValsingham 
spent his fortune in the public service and died in pov- 
erty. These are the men who, with a very few others, 
such as Sir Francis KnoUys, Sir ISTicholas Bacon, and Sir 
Philip Sidney, are often held up to illustrate the public 
morality of the age ; but they neither represent the offi- 
cials nor the courtiers. Most of the men about them 
were mere parasites fattening on the nation — gamblers, 
spendthrifts, pardon-brokers, monopolists, and pirates. 

* Strype's " Annals," iii. Appendix, p. 128. 


For public services, however splendid or long contin- 
ued, Elizabeth had scarcely a word of thanks. It must 
have been that, believing herself more than mortal, there 
was no room in her composition for such an earthly trait 
as gratitude. She allowed her ministers to go without 
reward, and her soldiers in the field to starve for want 
of food, apparently because she thought it their duty 
not only to serve her with their lives, but at their own 
expense. It speaks well for human nature and for the 
English character that she found so many willing to 
serve her, as the representative of their country, on these 
terms. Such men, however, were in a small minority, 
and with a few notable exceptions were not found about 
the court. Those who daily saw the queen discovered 
two modes of gaining the rewards denied to patriotic 
service or devotion to her interests. One was to satisfy 
her greed by presents of gold or jewels, no matter how 
acquired ; the other was to feed her hunger for adula- 
tion, which was insatiable as the grave. 

Historians, to excuse her conduct towards her minis- 
ters, soldiers, and aU the true friends with whom she had 
financial dealings, say that her avarice amounted to a 
monomania. But her life was not controlled by avarice. 
The miser who heaps up treasures from mere love of 
acquisition denies himself as well as others ; the selfish 
spendthrift it is who defrauds his creditors and robs his 
friends in order to have means for self-indulgence or 
display. To the parasites about her court, Elizabeth 
could be lavishness itself. Leicester, who began life 
with nothing, became the wealthiest nobleman in Eng- 
land. Burghley estimated that Elizabeth gave Essex, her 
last favorite, three hundred thousand pounds,* and this 

* Hume, iii. 258. 


was at a time when the country was at war with Spain, 
and the drains upon the public purse the most severe. 
Hatton, her "sheep," who danced himself into favor, 
was rewarded with broad acres of land and profita- 
ble sinecures, and was finally made Lord Chancellor, 
Others received grants of monopolies, which extended 
to so many articles and forms of industry as to be- 
come a grievous burden to the State, without benefit to 
the royal treasury.* 

But the monopolies were not the worst of the abuses 
caused by the conduct of the queen. Men who could not 
get pay for honest service took pensions from France 
and Spain, both natural enemies of England. Officials, 
when out of the queen's sight, robbed the government, 
as they always will where the government shows no 
honesty in its own dealings.f Even the Church be- 
came infected. Many of the bishops plundered their 
dioceses, sold the lead and brick from the buildings, 
cut down the timber, and made grants of church prop- 
erty to the crown, either for a bribe in money or for a 
portion of the spoils. In addition, they almost openly 
sold the livdngs in their gift, the Bishop of Lichfield 
making seventy " lewd and unlearned ministers for 
money " in one day.:|: , 

* Hallam's " Const. Hist." i. 260. 

t See Hall, p. 68, etc., for an account of the mode in -whicli Sir 
Thomas Gresbam, the qneen's financial agent, until recent times re- 
garded as a model of official integrity, acquired his large fortune; 
and p. 122, etc., for the exploits of Sir George Carey, the Treasurer 
at War in Ireland. These men were shining lights in their age, far 
removed from the horde of petty plunderers. 

I Froude, xii. 22; xi. 21 ; vii. 476. Further authorities for these 
statements regarding the condition of the Church will be given in 
Chapter IX. 


The law courts were little better. la 1592, Elizabeth 
appointed to the office of Chief Justice of England a 
lawyer, John Popham, who is said to have occasionally 
been a highwayman until the age of thirty,"- At first 
blush this seems incredible, but only because such false 
notions generally prevail regarding the character of the 
time. The fact is that neither piracy nor robbery was 
considered particularly discreditable at the court of Ehz- 
abeth. The queen knighted Francis Drake for his ex- 
ploits as a pirate, and a law on the statute-books, passed 
in the middle of the century, gave the benefit of clergy 
to peers of the realm when convicted of highway rob- 
bery. Men may doubt, if they choose, the stories about 
Popham, but the testimony of this statute cannot be dis- 

The elevation of a reputed highwayman to preside 
over the highest criminal court in the kingdom did not, 
however, mean that the laws were not to be enforced 
with rigor. In fact, Popham received the name of the 
" hanging judge," and well deserved the title. All the 

* See " Life of Popham," Campbell's " Lives of the Chief Jus- 
tices." Hall, it should be said, discredits this story as romantic 
gossip, p. 148. 

t 1 Ed. VL cap. 12, sec. 14 (1547). Shakespeare's contempora- 
ries saw nothing remarkable in the fact that Sir John Falstaif, a 
knight, was represented as a highway robber, and that a prince was 
his associate. Popham is said to have left the largest fortune ever 
accumulated by a lawyer. Among his other possessions was Little- 
cote House, which he acquired in some strange way from Wild Will 
Darrell. Upon his death, he was succeeded by a son who kept one 
of the grandest establishments in England. When at home his house 
was full of guests, and when abroad, his wife gathered in the women 
of the surrounding countiy, and they all got drunk together. Camp- 
bell's " Life of Popham." Both died from the effects of their de- 
bauchery, after squandering the ill-gotten wealth of the Chief Justice. 


judicial proceedings of tlie time are marked by tlie mixt- 
ure of ferocity and corruption which characterizes a 
semi-barbarous condition of society. In prosecutions by 
the State, every barrier which the law has ever attempt- 
ed to erect for the protection of innocence was ruthless- 
ly cast down. Men were arrested without the order of 
a magistrate, on the mere warrant of a secretary of state 
or privy councillor, and thrown into prison during the 
pleasure of the minister. In confinement they were sub- 
jected to torture, for the rack rarely stood idle while 
Elizabeth was on the throne. If brought to trial, they 
were denied the aid of counsel and the evidence of wit- 
nesses in their behalf. JSTor were they confronted with 
the witnesses against them, but written depositions, taken 
out of court and in the absence of the prisoner, were read 
to the jury, or rather such portions of them as the prose- 
cution considered advantageous to its side. On the bench 
sat a judge holding ofiice at the pleasure of the crown, 
and in the jury-box twelve men, picked out by the sher- 
iff, who themselves were punished if they gave a verdict 
of acquittal."" 

Well does Hallam compare the English courts of jus- 
tice, in cases of treason, to the " caverns of murderers." 
Hentzner counted on London Bridge the heads of over 
thirty persons who had been executed for high treason, 
and he was there in a very quiet time. Concerning the 
Tower he has this significant remark : " N.B. It is to 
be noted that when any of the nobility are sent hither 
on the charge of high crimes punishable with death, such 
as treason, etc., they seldom or never repover their lib- 

* "The Trial of the Eaii of Somerset," by Amos; Jardine's 
"Life of Coke;" Hallam's "Const. Hist.," i. 233, 234, etc.; Wade, 
i. 141. 


erty." * It was like the cave of the lion in the fable : 
all the footsteps pointed in one direction. 
IV But it was not alone in prosecutions by the State tliat 
liberty was trampled under foot. Private individuals, 
for suing a wealthy nobleman or court favorite, were 
arrested by a secret warrant and cast into some un- 
known dungeon beyond the reach of legal process. 
Even lawj^ers and oflQcers of the courts were thus im- 
prisoned for the simple discharge of their duty to the 
public. These outrages, equalling anything popularly 
supposed to have been perpetrated in France during the 
worst days of the Bastile, finally aroused even the men 
upon the bench to an exhibition of some spirit. In 
1592, eleven of the highest judges united in a petition 
to Lord Burghley and the chancellor, setting forth 
these facts, and asking that this particular grievance 
might be redressed, although they admitted that the 
queen or privy council might imprison any one at 
pleasure, and that the courts could not interfere. Ac- 
cording to Hallam,f it seems probable that this petition 
was presented twice, first in 1591 and again in 1592. 
It is certainly one of the most suggestive documents of 
the time, being the certificate of all the judges of the 
higher courts to the mode in which personal liberty 
was utterly crushed out by the powerful and corrupt 
men about the throne, more than thirty years after the 
accession of Elizabeth. Had some foreigner made the 
statements contained in this paper, their truth might 
well be questioned ; but, like the act of Parliament re- 
lating to the peers of the realm to which I have just al- 
luded, its authority is too high to be called in question. :|; 

* Hentzner's " Travels," 1598. t " Const. Hist.," i. 236. 

X See this petition as it appears in Anderson's "Keports,"i. 297, 


Somewhat akin to the imprisonment of men without 
a cause was the pardoning of criminals, which grew 
into a regular business around the court. Will Darrell, 
when in jail for murder, obtained his release by a bribe 
of a sum equal to at least three thousand pounds of 
modern money, paid to Pembroke, the immortal Sid- 
ney's brother-in-law.* An address to the queen upon 
the dangers of the country, presented by the council in 
1579, refers to this practice in language which is deeply 
significant, as showing that the evils complained of did 
not lie at their doors. " Further, the loose, disordered 
administration required to be amended, and godly and 
learned men appointed as magistrates to do justice 
without partiality. The present practice of pardoning 
notable crimes, of pardoning piracy especially, ought to 
cease, and penal laws not to be dispensed with for pri- 
vate men's profit, a matter greatly misliked of good 
peoj)le." f The pardon-brokers and the men who ap- 
pointed corrupt judges were evidently outside the 
council and directly around the queen. In 1585, the 
Recorder of London w^rote to Burghley : " My Lord, 
there is a saying, when the court is farthest from Lon- 
don, then there is the best justice done in England. I once 
heard a great personage in office, yet living, say the 
same words. It is grown for a trade now in the court 
to make means for reprieves. Twenty pounds for a 
reprieve is nothing, though it be but for ten days." :{: 
A single illustration will show how this business was 

and also iu another form in Hallam, i. 235. Anderson states that 
after its presentation there was a marlved improvement. 

* Hall, p. 13. t Froude, xi. 177. 

X Froude, xii, 20. See also Abbott's "Bacon," p. 4, for an account 
of how the ladies about the court dealt in pardons, making of it a 
I.— 24 


conducted, and who were the parties that benefited by 
it. In 1595, a certain Robert Boothe, having been sen- 
tenced by the Court of Chancery for some criminal prac- 
tice, his friend Anthony Bacon, brother of Sir Francis, 
employed Sir Anthony Standen to negotiate his release. 
Standen applied to Lady Edmundes, one of the queen's 
attendants, the Lord Keeper Puckering having expressed 
a desire that the matter should be brought "to her mill," 
and having said to her, " Do your endeavor and you 
shall find me ready." In writing to Bacon concerning 
his negotiations, Standen reported that he had offered 
the noble dame a hundred pounds for her interest with 
the queen, which she treated as too small a sum. He 
adds, "This ruffianry of causes I am daily more and 
more acquainted with, and see the manner of dealing ; 
which groweth by the queen's straitness to give these 
women, whereby they presume thus to grange and huck 
causes." * 

The men who dealt in pardons and reprieves had a 
broad field of operations. The wide-spread demoraliza- 
tion of society is shown, if further proof were needed, 
by the prevalence of the crimes against person and 
property, which every government must punish if it 
would live at all. In London, highwaymen plied their 
vocation in open streets by daylight.f In the country 
were regular bands of robbers, who either settled down 
in some locality, whence they carried on their raids, or 
wandered about from place to place, levying contribu- 

regular business, and thus obtaining tlie income which the queen 

* Birch, " Memoirs of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth," i. 354, cit- 
ing original letter in Lambeth Library. 
■ t Froude, vii. 471. 


tions on the farmers.* In Somersetshire alone, forty 
prisoners were executed in one year (1596) for robbery 
and other felonies, and this record was not the highest. 
It was estimated that in every county of the kingdom 
there were at least three or four hundred vagabonds 
who lived by theft and rapine. They often intimidated 
the magistrates, and substantially ruled in some sec- 

A commission issued by Elizabeth in 1595 is sugges- 
tive of the dimensions of this evil in London, while it 
illustrates the utter disregard of personal liberty shown 
by her government shortly before the end of the cen- 
tury. Under this commission, Sir Thomas Wilford was 
directed, on notice by the magistrates, to arrest "such 
notable rebellious and incorrigible offenders " as he 
should find in the streets of London or in the suburbs, 
and forthwith execute them openly on the gallows.:]: 
No trial, no examination, simply a short rope and a 
shorter shrift. It may be added that this despotic 
measure, under which five men were hanged, had no po- 
litical tumults for an excuse, but was provoked merely 
by a few disorders committed by some riotous appren- 
tices and vagrants. || 

* Blackraore, in his exquisite historical romance, " Lorna Doone," 
gives an admirable description ot one of these robber retreats of the 
next century. Macaulay describes the high position held by high- 
waymen in England as late as the close of the seventeentli century. 
" History of England," vol. i. chap. iii. 

t Strype's " Annals," iv. 290. | Hallam's " Const. Hist.," i. 243. 

11 In 1597, a number of peasants in Oxfordshire assembled to 
break down recent enclosures and restore the land to its former 
tillage. As this action opposed the execution of the laws, it was 
pronounced high treason by the court, and the rioters suflFered the 
barbarous death of traitors. Howell's " State Trials," 1431 ; Lin- 
gard, viii. 398. 


There is nothing strange about the prevalence of 
crimes against property on land, when we consider the 
extent to which piracy existed upon the ocean, and the 
mode in which it was fostered and encouraged by the 
queen. But before discussing this extensive subject, 
let us finish with the landsmen by showing how the 
general demoralization of society affected some por- 
tions of the manufacturing and trading classes, and 
how the Englishmen of that day dealt with their Irish 

For many yesirs a coarse kind of woollen goods had 
been made in England, which found a wide market on 
the Continent. Her people could not yet dye their 
cloths, nor finish the finer varieties. These pursuits 
they began to follow only in the next century, when 
taught by the ISTetherland refugees.* For the rude un- 
dressed fabric, however, they had a good reputation un- 
til the time of the Reformation. Then, as the business 
increased, adulteration and fraud appeared to run ram- 
pant, culminating in the jesiYS just preceding the Span- 
ish Armada, when " more false cloth and Avoollen was 
made in England than in all Europe besides." f It was 
a time when all classes, infected by the example of the 
men about the court, who openly paraded their ill- 
gotten gains, were crazed with the desire for speedy 

"With adulterations in their manufactured products 
and frauds in their commercial dealings, there was also 
developed a mania for gambling, such as usually accom- 
panies a feverish condition of society. Both sexes gam- 

* Motley's " United Netlierlands," iv. 433. 

t Froude, v. 359 ; MSS. Domestic, Dec, 1585, cited Froude, 
xii. 565. 


bled, and they did it in curious ways which show the 
wide dissemination of the practice. Thus, in the accounts 
of shop-keepers of the time, we find frequent records 
of articles sold to be paid for at an enormous advance, 
when the purchaser returned from a distant voyage, was 
married, had a child, or the like.* This, of course, was 
only a cover for a bet. With other tradesmen the trans- 
actions were more open, the customer paying down di- 
rectly a sum of money, which he was to receive back 
several-fold on the happening of some contingency.f 
This was but one form of a vice which became almost 
universal. As in the present day, dice and cards were 
the instruments most commonly used by the habitual 
gamesters, and there were in London more gambling 
houses " to honor the devil than churches to serve the 
living God." :}: 

The most extensive form of gambling was that car- 
ried on in connection with the operations of the pirates 
and privateers. The ships of these worthies were usual- 
ly fitted out by gentlemen " adventurers," as they Avere 
called, who sometimes lost their all, but at other times 

* Hall's " Society in the Elizabethan Age," p. 52, etc. 

t Ben Jonson, in " Every Man out of his Humour," refers to this 
mode of speculation, which originated among the nobility, but soon 
extended to the lower ranks. Says Puntarvolo, " I do intend this 
year of jubilee coming on to travel ; and because I will not alto- 
gether go upon expense, I am determined to put forth some five 
thousand pounds, to be paid me five for one upon the return of my- 
self, my wife, and my dog from the Turk's court in Constantinople. 
If all or either of us miscarry in the journey, 'tis gone ; if we be suc- 
cessful, why, there will be five and twenty thousand pounds to enter- 
tain time withal." — Act ii. sc. 3. 

I George Whetstone, 1586, quoted in Nathan Drake's " Shake- 
speare and his Times," p. 431. 


received enormous returns on their investments.* Men 
for these purposes borrowed money, and a class of usu- 
rers sprang up, who formed one of the great curses of the 
age. Taking interest beyond ten per cent, was forbid- 
den by statute, but means were found to evade the law. 
Twenty-five per cent, was a common rate,t and frequent- 
ly even this was much exceeded. The Dean of York, one 
of the high dignitaries of the Church, was a noted usu- 
rer. We find him and his associates, in 1585, taking fifty, 
sixty, and sometimes a hundred per cent, interest on 
loans.:}: In connection with the subject of gambling and 
usury, and as a further symptom of the state of society 
in its changing conditions, it may be added that, in 1569, 
lotteries, long known upon the Continent, were first in- 
troduced into England, the drawings taking place at the 
west door of St. Paul's. 

"When now we add to this picture the love of strong 
drink, in which no one, except perhaps the ISTetherlanders,. 
could rival the Englishman,! we can form a pretty cor- 
rect idea of the dark side of society in England during 
the Elizabethan age. Of its brighter side Ave shall see 
something when in subsequent chapters we come to con- 

* In one expedition, planned by Kaleigh, in 1592, the adventurers 
received ten for one, a thousand per cent. Strype's " Annals," iv. 
129. t Hall, pp. 47, 56. 

I Strype, iii. 325. Until 1571, all interest was forbidden both by 
Church and State ; then Elizabeth, through Parliament, fixed the 
legal rate at ten per cent. She also introduced judicious regulations 
concerning weights and measures, and gave the country an honest 
metallic currency, which had been unknown under her jiredeces- 
sors, who debased it by mixing other metals with the gold and 

§ Drake, p. 408. See also Hall, p. 76, etc., as to the change from 
the light drinks of earlier times to loaded wine and heady ale. 


sider the marvellous literature of this period, its energy 
displayed in every quarter, and the reforms, civil and re- 
ligious, advocated by the Puritans. 

Let us now, after looking at the Englishman at home, 
see something of his character as it was exhibited in Ire- 
land three centuries ago; and here, for our purpose, 
the recital of a few historical incidents will be sufficient. 
They will supplement what we have already seen of his 
mo]'al condition, and throw some light on the opinion 
formed of him by foreigners. 

English historians throw up their hands in natural 
horror at the atrocious plots of the fanatical Catholics 
for the assassination of Queen Elizabeth. Crimes of vio- 
lence, they say, are common enough among our people ; 
but for secret murder, especially by poison, our nation 
has always had a peculiar detestation. All this is true 
enough in general, but, in the light of some notable 
events in Ireland, to say nothing of what went on in' 
England itself, one may well ask whether such state- 
ments are not a little overdrawn when applied to the 
Elizabethan age. As for the comparison between the 
Catholics in England and the Protestant English in 
Ireland, we must remember that the former had a re- 
ligious motive. "When, in 1584, the attempts were be- 
gun against the queen, she had been excommunicated 
by the pope, she had already put a number of Catho- 
lics to death, and the men who plotted her destruc- 
tion believed that they were doing the work of God 
in removing a wicked woman, who was an outlaw per- 
secuting the saints and aiding the spread of perni- 
cious doctrines. In Ireland were a people fighting for 
their homes against a foreign invader. 'No question of 
religion was involved, in the early days of which I am 
about to speak ; but the English were simply striving to 


hold by the strong arm what they had won by force. 
Upon this point Lord Burghley^ the queen's chief minis- 
ter, said, in 1582, "that the people of the Netherlands 
had not such cause to rebel against the oppression of 
the Spaniards as the Irish against the tyranny of Eng- 
land." * 

Under these conditions, in 1561, nineteen years before 
the Jesuits began even their religious teachings in Eng- 
land, and nine years before the excommunication of 
Elizabeth, Shan O'Neil led one of the periodical rebel- 
lions so common in the Emerald Isle. He was a brave 
soldier and a skilful general. In a fair fight he defeat- 
ed an army led by the Earl of Sussex, the flower of Eng- 
lish chivalry, one of Elizabeth's trusted councillors, and 
her deputy in Ireland. Shortly thereafter, Shan sent 
two of his followers to Sussex with a message concern- 
ing some military details. What followed is best told 
in the words of the noble English lord who thus re- 
ported to his queen : 

'' August 24:th,15Ql. 
"May it please your Higliness: 

" After conference had with Shan O'Neil's seneschal, I entered talk 
with Neil Gray; and perceiving by him that he had little hope of 
Shan's conformity in anything, and that he therefore desired that he 
might be received to serve your Highness, for that he would no 
longer abide with him, and that if I would promise to receive him 
to your service he would do anything that I would command him, I 
swore him upon the Bible to keep secret that I should say unto him, 
and assured him if it were ever known during the time I had the 
government there that, besides the breach of his oath, it should cost 
him his life. I used long circumstance in persuading him to serve 
you, to benefit his country, and to procure assistance of living to him 
and his forever by doing of that which he might easily do. He prom- 
ised to do what I would. In fine, I brake with him to kill Shan, and 

* Froude, xi. 273. 


bound myself by my oath to see him have a hundred marks of land 
by the year to him and to his heirs for his reward. * * * God send 
your Highness a good end. 

"Your Highuess's most humble and faithful servant, 

" T. Sussex." 

Froude, who first gave this letter to the public, mild- 
ly remarks that " English honor, like English coin, lost 
something of its purity in the sister island."* But this 
is not a transaction to be lightly dismissed. Here is the 
representative of the queen, himself one of the brightest 
ornaments of the English peerage, laboring with a trust- 
ed servant, and finally hiring him to assassinate his mas- 
ter, because that master is too strong an enemy in the 
open field, and then reporting the bargain to his royal 
mistress, like any other piece of business. The letter 
needs no comment, but deserves consideration. 

ISTo record remains, or at least has yet been found, of 
the answer made by Elizabeth to the report of her noble 
deputy. But Sussex retained his command, and, as was 
shown by subsequent events, could not have been dis- 
couraged by any communication received from home. 
Gray, either from fear or from some other reason, failed 
to murder his chief, who at length became so powerful 
that Elizabeth consented to make terms with him and 
to recognize his authority as virtual sovereign of Ulster. 
As a first evidence of cordiality, a present of a cask of 
wine was sent to Shan from Dublin — where Sussex had 
his headquarters — which, consumed at table, brought 
the Irish leader and half his household to the point of 
death. To such a mode of conducting a friendly inter- 
course Shan naturally objected. He made a great out- 
cry, which probably would have been louder had he 

* Froude, viii. 29. 


known of the previous dealings with Gray, and demand- 
ed an investigation. This was begun, the wine was 
traced back to an Enghsh resident in Dubhn, b}' the 
name of Smith, who admitted that he had jDoisoned it. 
Sussex denied all complicity in the attempted crime, the 
guilt of which Smith took upon himself ; but the subor- 
dinate was never punished, and Shan as a reward for 
dropping the inquiry received renewed concessions.* 
Even with all the mystery surrounding this affair, the 
denial of Sussex might be of value but for his letter to 
Elizabeth setting forth the details of his former plot. 
The man wdio could incite a servant to assassinate his 
master would hardly shrink from the use of poison to 
accomplish the same purpose. Evidently both Elizabeth 
and her deputy were borne down by the consciousness 
of guilt. t 

When a certain class of modern Englishmen feel too 
much oppressed with that sense of an inherited superi- 
ority which ascribes to some moral defect in the Latin 

* Froude, viii. 50. 

t See also as to Englishmen's familiarity with the use of poison, 
the negotiations between Lord Burghley and Woodshawe, an Eng- 
lish gentleman honorably connected, who had been engaged in a 
burglary, and offered to make his peace by poisoning any one in the 
Netherlands whom the queen wished out of the way. Burghley, as 
might be expected, declined his offers. Froude, xi. 45. Some fur- 
ther illustrations of the mode in which Elizabeth and even Charles 
II. played with assassination will be given hereafter when we come 
to consider the alleged plots of the Jesuits for the assassination of 
Elizabeth herself In connection with the general subject of poison- 
ing, it is perhaps hardly necessary for me to refer to the stories told 
about Leicester and the professional poisoner in his service (see 
" The Puritans and Queen Elizabeth," by Hopkins), and to the ex- 
ploits of the Countess of Somerset in the next reign. 


races the assassinations connived at, if not incited by, 
the Jesuits, the poisonings at the ItaUan court, and the 
other crimes of a like character famihar to portions of 
the Continent in former ages, they may with much 
profit turn to the story of Shan O'N'eii and the Earl of 
Sussex. When, on the other hand, they feel inclined to 
ascribe to the malign effects of Puritanism the actions 
of Cromwell in Ireland, and those of the Puritans in 
New England, the study of such incidents as the fol- 
lowing may also serve a useful purpose. 

In 1569, Shan 0']^eil having died, and Ireland being 
again unsettled, it occurred to some of the adventurous 
spirits of England that the sister island afforded a fine 
field for a speculation. They therefore, to the number 
of twenty-seven, mostly freebooters from Devonshire 
and Somersetshire, proposed to the government that the 
whole province of Munster should be granted to them, 
and that they in turn w^ould make it peaceful by, if 
need be, the utter extermination of the natives. This 
proposal excited some discussion, but only as to de- 
tails, and, action on it being delayed, a new scheme was 
taken up. 

In the previous century the Irish had driven out 
some of the old Norman robber families and repos- 
sessed themselves of their ancestral lands. The great- 
grandchildren of these ejected landlords still kept the 
ancient title-deeds, which were considered valuable sim- 
ply as historical curiosities. Several of the original 
speculators — among w^hom were Sir Philip Carew, Sir 
Warham St. Leger, Sir Kichard Grenville, and Humphrey 
Gilbert, all well-known English worthies, and prominent 
among the men who made the age of Elizabeth illustrious 
— having acquired some of these claims, set out, with a 
large body of retainers, to look after their properties, 


without waiting for the action of tlie government. Ar- 
riving in Ireland, they began to take possession of their 
estates, and naturally enough the occupants objected. 
In July, Sir Philip Carew attacked the house of Sir 
Edward Butler, and massacred every man, woman, and 
child within the walls, not sparing even a little boy three 
years of age.* 

The news of the intended extermination of the Irish 
having spread through the country, caused what history 
calls a rebellion, and Humphrey Gilbert, the American 
explorer, half-brother of Sir Walter Ealeigh, helped to 
put it down. In reporting officially to his superior offi- 
cer as to his "manner of dealing" with the "rebels," he 
says : " After my first summoning of any castle or fort, 
if they would not presently yield it, I would not after- 
wards take it of their gift, but won it perforce, how 
many lives soever it cost, putting man, woman, and child 
of them to the sword."t For these exploits. Sir Henry 
Sidney, the representative of the queen, and himself 
ranked as one of the worthies of the age, only inferior 
to his illustrious son. Sir Philip, conferred the honor of 
knighthood upon Gilbert, and reported to Cecil, " For 
the colonel, I cannot say enough." :j: 

In 1573, the Earl of Essex went to the ]N"orth of Ire- 
land on a mission of private plunder. The next year he 
accepted the hospitality of one of the O'JSTeils, Sir Brian 
MacPhelim, and made him a friendly visit at Belfast. 

* Froude, x. 502. 

t Humphrey Gilbert to Sir H, Sidney, Dec, 1569, MSS. Ireland, 
Froude, x. 510. 

I In 1573, Sir Humphrey Gilbert served as a volunteer in the 
Netherlands, and, much to the discredit of the patriots' cause, exhib- 
ited there the same ferocity which he had shown in Ireland. Froude, 
X. 393. 


After a banquet given in honor of his guest, Sir Brian 
retired to a house outside the fortress walls. As soon 
as he was asleep, Essex set upon him with a company of 
soldiers, and murdered two hundred of his attendants, 
male and female, the chief, his wife, and brother being 
taken alive and reserved for execution.'^ Hearing of 
this transaction, the queen wrote to the earl that " he 
was a great ornament of her nobility," f 

Incited by her praises, he now did an act which stands 
out almost unique in history. 

On the coast of Antrim, not far from the Giant's 
Causeway, is the romantic island of Eathlin, famous as 
the abode of Saint Columba, and as containing the castle 
in which Robert Bruce watched the persevering spider. 
With steep, precipitous sides, broken only at a single 
point, filled with caves and protected by the sea, it was 
always a camp of refuge, being invested with some- 
thing of a sacred character. In 1575, Essex invaded 
Antrim to put down a petty insurrection. Upon his 
approach the insurgents sent their wives and children, 
sick and aged, to this island retreat. The active hostili- 
ties amounted to little ; peace was soon restored, and 
the English commander began his march back to Dublin. 
On the way he was informed of the precious colony 
which was occuping Rathlin. He forthwith halted, and 
sent a company of soldiers, led by John JS'orris, second 
son of Lord ISTorris — Francis Drake being one of his 
officers :{: — to take possession of the island, with direc- 
tions to kill whatever they should find. 

They found a few able-bodied men in Bruce's castle, 
who had been sent with the women as a guard. This 

* Froude, xi. 200. t Idem, xi. 203. 

I See "Dictionary of National Biography," article "Devereux." 


little band could make no defence against the cannon 
Avhich Norris had brought with him. The place was 
soon taken by assault, and every human being within 
the walls slaughtered, except the chief and his family, 
who were probably reserved for ransom. The victims 
here numbered two hundred, all non-combatants, save 
the score or so of the garrison. It was then discovered 
that the caves along the shore contained several hundred 
others, mostly women and little children. These cow- 
ering and helpless objects of pity the English warriors 
proceeded to ferret out, putting them every one to death. 
When the work was finished, not a woman or babe was 
left alive. Essex reported to the queen that the rebel 
chiefs had sent their women and children to the island, 
" which he had taken, and executed to the number of six 
hundred." The leading rebel, "yellow-haired Charley 
Macconnell," he said, "stood upon the mainland and 
saw the taking of the island, and was likely to have run 
mad for sorrow, tearing and tormenting himself, and 
saying that he there lost all that ever he had." For 
this act, Essex took great credit to himself, and Elizabeth 
directed him to say to ISTorris, "the executioner of his 
well-designed enterprise, that she would not be unmind- 
ful of his services." * 

These are but illustrations of what the English did in 
Ireland long before there was any pretext of a religious 
war or Spanish intrigues, and when they were bent 
simply on plundering the natives, as Cortez had done in 
Mexico and Pizarro in Peru half a century before. Well 
may Lecky say that the Englishmen in Ireland surpassed 
the ferocity of Alva in the ISTetherlands.f 

Lodge says that Sussex, who plotted the assassination 

* Froude, xi. 206. t " Englaud in tlie Eighteenth Century," ii. 104 


of O'Neil, was as " brave as Raleigh, with the piety of a 
primitive Christian," * A modern ISTew England writer 
calls him "one of the children of God."t Sir Humphrey 
Gilbert, who was lost in the Atlantic on his return from 
America in 15 S3, left to the world the memorable say- 
ing, " We are as near to heaven by sea as by land." 
Fronde says of Essex, who died shortly after his exploit 
at Rathlin, and whose widow married Leicester, that he 
" was one of the noblest of living Englishmen." X So he 
doubtless was ; he was also a religious man, and, as we 
have seen, was deeply grieved over the universal wick- 
edness in England. But these being the best, what 
shall we think of their countrymen at large ? It is the 
very goodness of these men, and their manifest uncon- 
sciousness that they have done anything inconsistent 
with their character as Christians or soldiers, that throw 
the most light on their condition, § 

But Ireland furnished only Umited opportunities for 
the exhibition of the character of Englishmen when 
brought into contact with men of other nationalities. To 
complete the full outline of the picture, we must now 
turn to a broader field. 

In the preceding pages, frequent mention has been 

* " Illustrations of British History " (London, 1791), i. 367, 

t "The Puritans and Queen Elizabeth," Hopkins, 1875, ii, 324. 

I Froude, xi. 219. 

§ In selecting the material for this and the preceding chapter, I 
have gone, not to the writings of the Puritans or satirists, but to 
official documents and the works of standard English scholars. For 
my illustrations I have chosen incidents, not in the lives of disrepu- 
table characters, such as can be found in all ages of the world, but, 
with few exceptions, in those of men who come down to us as repre- 
senting among their contemporaries the very flower of English Chris- 
tianity and civilization. 


made of the pirates who form so important an element 
of society in the Elizabethan age ; but the subject is one 
which deserves much more than a passing notice. In 
fact, no sketch of the period would be complete which 
omitted an account of the growth of the industry which 
these heroes developed, for they were the men who laid 
the foundation of England's naval greatness. In addi- 
tion, their spoliations upon the sea had as marked an in- 
fluence upon the manners and morals of the time as the 
plundering of the monasteries on the land, and it was 
largely through connivance at their practices that Eliza- 
beth was finally forced, against her will, into the contest 
between the Netherlands and Spain. 

The close of the fifteenth and the opening of the 
sixteenth century witnessed upon the Continent of 
Europe an outburst of commercial activity as remark- 
able as the revival of art and letters which has made 
that age so famous. England, however, took as little 
part in the one as in the other. Her commerce was 
almost wholly in the hands of French, Italian, Ger- 
man, and l^etherland merchants, while her people upon 
the land devoted themselves mainly to raising wool, 
and those upon the sea to catching fish. About her 
only contribution to the early explorations, w^hich the 
mariner's compass now rendered possible, Avere the dis- 
coveries of John and Sebastian Cabot, who sailed under 
English colors. 

John Cabot was a Venetian merchant, doing business 
at Bristol. In 1497, with five vessels fitted out at his 
own expense, he set sail across the Atlantic, under a pat- 
ent from Henry YIL, to search for countries " which 
were before that time unknown to all Christian people," 
the exclusive privilege of trading with such countries 
being reserved unconditionally, and without limit of 


time, to his family and their assigns.'"^ On this first voy- 
age the mainland in the vicinity of Labrador was sight- 
ed, and in the next year Sebastian, the son, coasted along 
the American continent to about the southern boundary 
of Marjdand, or perhaps a little farther to the south, 
N"othing, however, came from either of these voyages. 
England at that time was in communion Avith the 
Church of Kome, and, in 1493, Pope Alexander YI. had 
issued a bull which, as then construed, granted the whole 
American continent to Spain and Portugal. Upon the 
return of the Cabots, it was evident that their alleged 
discoveries lay within the boundaries of the papal grant, 
and the English monarch appears from that time to have 
abandoned all thought of acquiring the sovereignty of 
unknown countries.f 

* Hazard's " Hist. Coll.," pp. 1-9. 

t The theory of an English title to America, by virtue of Cabot's 
discoveries, was first advanced about 1580 by Dr. Dee, who was fol- 
lowed by Hakluyt; but it was never accepted by the government. 
Before the Reformation, England never questioned the exclusive rights 
of Spain ; but when the authority of the pope was set aside she began 
to pick flaws in the papal grant. Still, the fact was adrhitted that Spain 
had discovered America several years before the voyage of Cabot. 
Little, therefore, was said about his voyage, but England advanced the 
doctrine that actual occupation must follow discovery, or no title 
could be acquired. This was Elizabeth's maxim in 1580, when speak- 
ing to the Spanish ambassador. " Prescriptio sine possessione baud 
valeat " (Camden). The letters-patent under which Sir Humphrey 
Gilbert sailed and took possession of Newfoundland, in 1583, were 
based upon this legal princiiDle. They made no reference to Cabot, 
but authorized Gilbert to discover, occupy, and j)ossess "such remote 
heathen lands, not actually possessed of any Christian prince or peo- 
ple, as should seem good to him." The patent to Sir "Walter Ra- 
leigh, in 1584-85, was of the same character. Hazard, i. 24-33. The 
Virginia Charter of 1606 restricted colonization to lands " whicli are 
I.— 25 


The discoveries of the Venetian Cabots are of interest 
to the historians of early American explorations; but 
they awakened httle enthusiasm in England, and pro- 
duced no effect upon her commerce. That went on as 
before, being mostly in the hands of foreigners, and lim- 
ited to a very narrow field, which no one thought of 

Very different were the results which followed the 
explorations undertaken by the sailors of Portugal and 
Spain. In 1498, Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of 
Good Hope, and about the same time another Portuguese 
discovered a way to India by the Isthmus of Suez. Short- 
ly afterwards, their countrymen established at Goa the 
first European factory in India, and began a commerce 
which soon grew to large proportions.! Spain in the 
same way improved her discoveries in the JSTew World, 
She worked the gold and silver mines of Mexico and 
Peru, the pearl fisheries of the coast, and the sugar plan- 
tations on the islands in the tropics. The colonists 
shipped to the mother country, which monopolized the 
whole carrying trade, their surplus products of the fields 

not now actually possessed by any Christian prince or people," and 
the Plymouth patent of 1620 contained the same restriction. In 
1621, the House of Commons declared the principle that " occupancy 
confers a good title by the law of nations and nature." Chalmers's 
"Political Annals," i. 10. This was always the doctrine of James I, 
Gardiner's " History of England," iii. 40. 

* Froude, viii. 435. Several patents were issued to English explor- 
ers after the return of the Cabots, but they came to nothing. " Eng- 
lish Colonies in America" (Virginia, Maryland, etc.), by J. A. Doyle, 
p. 26, etc. 

t It was in 1600, more than a century later, that the English East 
India Company was organized, on a very small scale ; and then no 
factory was established for ten or eleven years. 


and woods, and in return took the manufactured prod- 
ucts of the European looms and workshops. So rap- 
idly did the commerce of Spain develop that at the 
time of her greatest prosperity she had a thousand mer- 
chantmen upon the ocean.* 

In one direction England felt the effects of the new 
markets opened up in America and the East Indies. 
They increased the demand for her wool and cheap 
wooUen goods, and so raised their prices. In return, she 
imported so much from the Continent, especially in the 
way of luxuries — the consumption of wine, for example, 
having increased fourfold in a few years — that old and 
conservative statesmen became alarmed. StiU, this new 
trade was mostly carried on by foreigners, and little 
benefited Enghsh shipping. When Henry YIII. broke 
with the pope, he concluded to strengthen himself upon 
the ocean, and made some attempts to estabhsh a navy. 
How nttle was accomplished is shown by the fact that, 
upon the accession of Elizabeth, the whole naval force 
in commission amounted to seven coast-guard vessels, 
the largest of which was only one hundred and twenty 
tons, with eight small merchant brigs and schooners al- 
tered for fighting. Of ships in harbor fit for service 
there were twenty-one.f 

* In 1582, England had no more than two hundred and seventeen 
vessels above eighty tons burden. Wade, i. 148. The Spaniards 
studied navigation as a science. The " Contraction House " at Se- 
ville was virtually a college of navigation, giving instruction and 
conferring degrees. Henry VIH. attempted something of the kind 
in England, but the results were paltry. Doyle, p. 33. In the latter 
days of Elizabeth, Englishmen needed no colleges of navigation ; 
their school was the ocean. 

t Froude, vii. 59. 


Upon the fishing industry of England the Reforma- 
tion produced the most disastrous effects. Under the old 
religion, no meat was allowed to any one on fast-days, 
and these made up nearly a third of the year. ISTow the 
eating of fish was looked on with some suspicion as a 
token of papistical inclinations, and meat was ostenta- 
tiously displayed, even on Fridays and in Lent. . Thus it 
came about that, while France sent annually five hun- 
dred vessels to the Newfoundland fishing-banks, even 
the home fisheries around the English coast fell into the 
hands of foreigners.* Hence with an increasing trade 
and growing wealth, the port towns were strangely 
enough falling into decay.f 

Taking all the facts of the situation into account, the 
outlook for English shipping did not seem very brill- 
iant. In fact, it was so gloomy that the wise and far- 
sighted Cecil thought of it with serious apprehension. 
Something must be done, he said, to build up a fleet 

* When Sir Humphrey Gilbert went to Newfoundland in 1583, and 
took possession of the country in the name of Elizabeth, as an un- 
known land, he found there thirty-six vessels of other nations en- 
gaged in catching fish. Doyle, p. 50. 

f A very interesting account of the condition of English commerce 
in 1552 is given in a letter addressed to Cecil by Thomas Barnaby, a 
merchant, and one of the foreign agents of Edward VI. It is among 
the Cecil manuscripts; a copy will be found in the appendix to 
Strype's "Ecclesiastical Memorials," ii. 151. He states that the 
French had more sailors in a single town than the English had in 
all their southern sea-ports; that even English coal was exported 
wholly in French vessels ; and that all tlie maritime towns of Eng- 
land were going to decay. He stated that if the coal-trade could be 
restricted to English ships, employment would be found for six or 
seven thousand sailors. Cecil, when he became minister under Eliza- 
beth, tried in vain to carry out some of Barnaby's suggestions. 


and to educate a race of sailors. After his custom he 
set down in writing his views upon this subject, and the 
paper, prepared in the first years of Elizabeth's reign, 
still exists. Three means occurred to him for the en- 
couragement of mariners : first, " merchandise ;" sec- 
ond, "fishing;" third, "the exercise of piracy, which 
was detestable and could not last." * To carry out his 
ideas, he proposed a " IS'avigation act " placing foreign 
ships under disabilities ; but this was not to come for 
nearly a century, when it proved a great success. Then 
he tried to make the people eat fish by means of an act 
of Parliament ; but this scheme was unpopular, and it 
had to be abandoned. Nothing now was left but the 
piracy, so detestable to the statesman, but so congenial 
to the Englishmen at large. Despite Cecil's prophecy it 
did last, and on it was built up Britain's naval greatness. 
The practice began at the time of the Marian perse- 
cutions, when a number of men from the best families 
took to the sea as roving chiefs. Upon the accession of 
Elizabeth, most of the leaders returned home and ob- 
tained places under government. But their crews re- 
mained behind, and to them were added the large num- 
ber of fishermen thrown out of employment by the ruin 
of their business. The increase of trade made piracy 
profitable, and it gradually attracted to itself most of 
the wild and adventurous sjDirits of the country. The 
result was that within a few years England occupied 
towards the l^orth of Europe much the same position 
that Algiers occupied towards the South, her people 
levying contributions on all the world.f 

* Trade notes, Domestic MSS. Eliz. vol. xli. Rolls House, cited by 
Froude, viii. 445. 
t " As the modern gentleman keeps his yacht, so Elizabeth's loyal 


It has been much the fashion to speak of the cor- 
sairs "who gave England her supremacy upon the sea as 
if they were men inflamed by a zeal for Protestantism, 
who, to revenge the atrocities of the Inquisition, levied 
private war on Spain. But such a view of the facts has 
only a tinge of truth, for it reverses the order of events. 
The English piracies came first, then followed the retri- 
butions of Spain, and lastly the fiery indignation of the 
Englishman which had such a marked effect on Euro- 
pean history. 

Long and earnestl}^ did Spain, whose king was friend- 
ly to England, labor to keep the peace. The English 
minister at Madrid expostulated with his government, 
described the outrages committed on Spanish commerce, 
and foretold the certainty of retaliation; but it was all 
in vain. The old Avild blood was up, the blood which 
coursed through the veins of Saxon, Dane, and N'orse- 
man. After the lapse of centuries, the Englishman had 
again found his natural element and calling. Friend 
and foe, Protestant and Romanist, Dutchman, French- 
man, Portuguese, and Spaniard, all were plundered 
alike. It was not war, but simple pillage and murder. 
In 1563, long before hostilities with Spain were thought 
of, a Spanish vessel sailed from Flanders with a cargo 
valued at eighty thousand ducats, Thomas Cobham, son 
of Lord Cobham of Cowling Castle, chanced to be cruising 
in the Channel, Catching sight of the vessel, he chased 
her down into the Bay of Biscay, fired into her, killed a 
number of the crew, and boarding, after all resistance 
had ceased, sewed up the survivors in their own sails 

burghers, squires, or knights, whose inclination led that way, kept 
their ambiguous cruisers, and levied war on their own account when 
the government lagged behind its duty." — Froude, viii. 449, 


and threw them overboard. Then, scutthng the ship, 
he made off vf^ith the booty to his pirate den in the 
South of Ireland.* Even the inoffensive Dutch fisher- 
men, although Protestants, did not escape, and perhaps 
the}'" were the worst sufferers of all. The English con- 
stantly boarded their fishing smacks, took out every- 
thing, down even to the clothing of the men, and left 
them naked to drift at the mercy of the waves. 

Of course, the government had, at times, to make a 
pretence of prosecuting the offenders ; but, remembering 
the way in which justice was then administered, the far- 
cical results can be readily imagined. Cobham, the 
year after the exploit above narrated, Avas tried for 
piracy in London, at the urgent demand of the Spanish 
minister. The evidence against him was complete, but 
he escaped conviction in the usual manner, and was 
soon back at his old occupation. In 1566, the English 
authorities, while trying to excuse their conduct tow- 
ards Spain, were forced to admit that they had never 
executed a single pirate.f 

Thus the industry grew and flourished. The English 
allowed other people to catch their fish; they helped 
themselves after the hauls were made. They permitted 
the JS^etherlanders to manufacture all the finer products 
of the loom, content to take their share, in the good 
old way, after the work was done. ISTearly every gen- 
tleman along the western coast, whether Protestant or 
Catholic, was engaged in the business. Their manor 
houses were filled with the spoils of their cruisers, and 
the surplus went to London, where the pirates sunned 
themselves in the rays of royal favor. The occupation 

* Froude, viii. 460. t Idem, viii. 478. 


had come to stay. The men who beat off the Spanish 
Arma,cla did a noble work for England and the world, 
but they were pirates none the less. Throughout the 
entire reign of Elizabeth they were preying on the com- 
merce of their Dutch allies ; and Henry IV. of France, 
in 1603, declined an invitation to visit England, from 
fear that they would capture him while crossing the 

If now it seems strange that the Continental powers 
permitted this piracy to flourish so long in England, 
we must remember that it continued in Algiers, her 
rival in the business, down to the year 1830, despite the 
combined efforts of all Christendom. The one was pro- 
tected by the Mediterranean and the sands of Africa, 
the other by the broad " deep ditch " which divided her 
from the Continent. 

Out of her piracies in the Channel and along the 
coast grew up England's slave-trade and this led to 
piratical expeditions on the wider scale, to be followed 
by results of great moment. From quite an early day 
the Portuguese explorers of Africa had carried on a 
slave-trade with the natives. It began about 1442, 
when ten black men, who had been exchanged for some 
Moorish captives, were brought to Portugal and aston- 
ished the Europeans by their color. Thenceforward 
negroes, both bond and free, were quite common in the 
cities of the Peninsula, although the traffic in human 
flesh was not extensive, since, at the close of the cen- 
tury, the number of blacks exported from Africa did 
not exceed a few hundred annually.f They were most- 
ly used as house-servants, nothing in the soil or climate 

* Motley's " United Netherlands," iv. 146-151. 

t Helps's " Spanish Conquests in America," i. 43-86, Harper's ed. 


tempting the agriculturist to employ them on the land. 
Unfortunately, the discovery of the ISTew World opened 
up a field of a different character, one in which slave 
labor was very profitable, while even misguided philan- 
thropy lent its aid to aggravate the evil. 

It is an error, long ago exploded, to suppose that ne- 
gro slavery was first introduced into America through 
the efforts of Las Casas. It existed there before his 
time, but he, unhappily, gave to its growth a great and 
sudden impetus. Deeply impressed with the sufferings 
of the Indians, who, reduced to substantial slavery by 
the Spaniards, were forced to a labor in the mine and 
field to w^hich they were unaccustomed, the large-heart- 
ed but too enthusiastic churchman thought that he saw 
a solution of the difficulty. Bring in the negro, and the 
problem would be solved. He was docile, accustomed 
to labor, ignorant, brutal, and in every respect of a very 
different character from the gentle, half-civilized inhab- 
itants of Mexico or Peru. He was also a heathen, and 
his residence among Christians would be of advantage 
to his soul. It was largely upon this recommendation, 
made in 1517, that the trade was expanded, and that 
negro slaves were sent into the colonies by thousands.* 

Las Casas lived long enough to repent of the advice 
which he had given, and it is greatly to the credit of the 
government of Spain that her officials used every effort to 
repair the wrong which had been innocently done. Even 
from the outset the Spanish law had thrown around the 
negro safeguards unknown among other nations. The 
slave had secured to him a part of every week, when his 
time was his own. He could insist upon his freedom 
when able to purchase it ; he could own property in his 

* Helps, ii. 21, 23. 


own right; and the records of the Spanish colonies of 
the sixteenth century prove that many a negro, who 
went there as a slave, rose to the position of a free and 
successful planter,* Still, the law was ineffectual to pro- 
tect the negro, however stringent were its regulations 
for his w^elfare. The slaves were abundant and cheap, 
and their lives of little value to an owner working an 
unhealthy mine or plantation where the profits of labor 
were enormous. 

In this condition of affairs, the home 'government 
adopted a policy apparently well calculated to check 
the growing evil. It determined to enhance the value 
of the slaves and thus make it to the interest of the 
master to preserve their health. Hence the governors 
of the colonies were instructed to prevent the importa- 
tion of negroes, unless under a license from Spain, which 
was expensive and charily given, while a duty of thirty 
ducats on each slave still further increased his price.f 

* Helps. A very erroneous impression seems to prevail in regard 
to the conduct of the Spanish government, not only towards the ne- 
gro, but towards the native population in America. In relation to 
the latter it has been justly remarked that " none of the European 
powers manifested so sincere a purpose to joromote the welfare of a 
conquered people. The rulers of Sjoain were continually enacting 
laws, which erred only in being more just and wise than the country 
in its disordered condition was able to receive. They continually 
sought to protect the Indians by regulations extending to the mi- 
nutest detail, and conceived in a spirit of thoughtful and even tender 
kindness." — Mackenzie's " America," title " South America," chap, 
iii. In all this work the Church of Rome did noble service. Tlie 
difficulty was that the colonists, wild, reckless, and roaming over a 
boundless continent in search of gold, could not be restrained. It 
is to the individuals, and not to the government, that we should im- 
pute the crimes which disgrace our human nature. 

t Froude, viii. p. 482. 


About the same time the Church of Rome, awakened to 
the horrors of the traffic, thundered its imprecations on 
the Europeans who should enslave their fellow -man, 
whether African or Indian. It even became usual for 
a Spanish vessel sailing on a voyage of discovery to 
carry a priest, in order to prevent the kidnapping of the 

It was at this juncture that England, with her long 
practice in piracy, stepped in to take up the trade which 
the papal world began to loathe. Her mariners and 
statesmen made no pretence of doing missionary work ; 
they professed no motives of philanthropy. To be sure 
the}^ besought the aid of Heaven ; but it was for them- 
selves, and not for their victims. They had but one ob- 
ject : to exchange human flesh for gold. . They made 
England the great slave-trader of the world, forcing the 
curse upon her American colonies, despite their contin- 
ued protests and entreaties, down to the very yeax that 
gave to the United States a separate existence.f 

The first English slave expedition of importance was 
undertaken by John Hawkins in 1563. He sailed for 
the coast of Africa with three vessels and a hundred 
men, collected three hundred negroes, "partl}^ by the 
sword and partly by other means," and then crossed the 
Atlantic to St. Domingo. There, through false repre- 
sentations to the governor, he sold two thirds of his 

* Bancroft, i. 173. 

t It is estimated that in the single century before the Declaration 
of Independence, England kidnapped from Africa over three million 
human beings, of whom more than a quarter of a million were thrown 
into the Atlantic. Bancroft, iii. 411. See this author as to the nu- 
merous laws passed in the American colonies against the further in- 
troduction of negro slaves, all of which were vetoed in England as 
detrimental to English prosperity- 


cargo at a large profit, and invested the proceeds in 
hides, half of which he shipped to Spain, returning with 
the other half to England.* The Spanish monarch was 
greatly incensed when he heard of these transactions. 
IS^ot onl}^ did they violate the la\v common to all coun- 
tries, and always particularly insisted on by England, 
under which trade with the colonies was reserved to the 
mother country, but they threatened a serious interfer- 
ence with his scheme for ameliorating the condition of 
the negro. The vessel which Hawkins sent to Spain was 
seized, its cargo confiscated — the captain barely escap- 
ing the Inquisition — and an order was despatched to the 
West Indies that no English vessel should be allowed to 
trade there, under any pretence whatsoever. So earnest 
was the government, and so decided the expressions of 
the king, that the English ambassador wrote to Eliza- 
beth urging her most strongly to prevent the recurrence 
of such violations of law. 

The answer was a'second expedition, in which Lord 
Pembroke and other members of the council were share- 
holders, while the queen supplied a ship, the Jesus of 
Lxibeck. This time Hawkins kidnapped four hundred 
Africans. It was a dangerous business, for the ignorant 
negroes did not appreciate the benefits which these Chris- 
tians intended for them, and at times made a stout resist- 
ance. However, God, the Englishmen said, was on their 
side,t and the voyage proved a great success. The Sj^an- 
ish governors objected to the landing of any blacks in 
their colonies, but English cannon overcame such scru- 
ples ; the cargo was disposed of, and Hawkins returned 

* Hakluyt's " Voyages," vol. iii. 

t See the report of the voyage in Hakluyt, where evidence is given 
of the protecting care of the Almighty, " who never suffers his elect 
to perish." 


home, to divide sixty per cent. j)rofits among his share- 
holders, with a handsome allowance to the queen.* 

The third of Hawkins's voyages had a very different 
ending — one that fired the English heart. The King of 
Spain, after the second expedition, had raised such an 
outcry that Elizabeth was obliged to promise that noth- 
ing of the kind should occur again. According to her 
mode of keeping such engagements, she, in 1567, again 
placed the Jesus at the disposal of Hawkins, who sailed 
for Africa with four more ships, all powerfully armed, 
taking with him a young kinsman, Erancis Drake. Eun- 
ning down as far as Sierra Leone, the vessels were speed- 
ily loaded with all the negroes they would hold. In car- 
rying out this laudable enterprise, Hawkins, according to 
his own statement, set fire to a city, the huts of which 
were covered with dry palm leaves, and out of eight 
thousand inhabitants succeeded in seizing two hundred 
and fifty.f 

Crossing the Atlantic, he now added the occupation 
of a pirate to that of a slave-merchant. The result was, 
that from the sale of his cargoes, and the plunder of such 
unarmed vessels as he met along the coast, he accumu- 
lated an enormous treasure. :{; As his vessels needed re- 
pairs, and he had still four hundred negroes undisposed 
of, he put into the harbor of St. Jean de Luz. Unfort- 
unately, the Spanish admiral, who for some time had 
been on the lookout for these pirates, entered the har- 
bor with a fleet of nineteen vessels, opened fire upon 
them, and compelled Hawkins and his sailors to aban- 

* Froude, viii. 491. t Hakluyt, iii. 618, 619. 

\ He estimated it at nearly two million pounds, mostly in gold, 
silver, and precious stones; probably a great exaggeration. Hak- 
luyt, iii. 620. 


don their plunder and take to sea in two small tenders. 
The next day, a hundred of the crew left their comrades, 
who were short of water and provisions, and, being put 
on shore, were captured by the Spaniards and carried to 
Mexico. The remainder, with Hawkins and Drake, took 
their sad way across the Atlantic, bearing with them 
their tale of woe and the ineffaceable remembrance of 
their bitter wrongs. 

They reached home just in the nick of time. Some 
French privateers, as we have seen in a former chapter, 
had driven into the English harbors a number of vessels 
carrying money borrowed by Philip from Italian bank- 
ers, for the payment of the Spanish troops in the Neth- 
erlands. Elizabeth had been a little undecided as to her 
duty towards a friendly power whose property was thus 
providentially placed within her reach. On hearing, 
however, of the enormous loss which she had sustained 
at the hands of the Spaniards across the ocean, all her 
hesitation vanished. She helped herself to the Spanish 
silver, with a consciousness of well-doing that would 
have reflected honor on any of the pirates of her realm.* 

How this high-handed act of robbery affected the 
Netherlands we have already seen. It led to Alva's 
proclamation of non-intercourse with England, which for 
a time consolidated the manufacturing and commercial 
classes of the country in their opposition to Spain. But 
its effects upon England were no less marked. Non- 
intercourse with the Netherlands threw all business into 
confusion, and at first seemed to threaten wide-spread 
and permanent disaster. In the end, however, it was 
productive of great good. The English maritime and 
trading spirit was aroused, never to sleep again. Shut 

* Froude, ix. 371. 


out temporarily from the markets of the Netherlands, 
the English producers began to seek markets for them- 
selves, and they found that there was a profit in legiti- 
mate commerce, as well as in pre3"ing on their neighbors. 
From this time forward they sought to compete with 
Spain and the ISTetherlands for the carrying trade of the 

In the first excitement attending these w^holesale acts 
of reprisal, an open war appeared inevitable. Burghley, 
Elizabeth's prime minister, was in favor of it, believing 
that the time had come for a Protestant coalition against 
Spain. But Elizabeth, with her habitual dislike of ex- 
treme measures, and having her own scheme of self- 
preservation, held back, and began to apologize for her 
recent conduct. On the other hand, Philip, as soon as 
his first irritation had subsided, also felt pacific. About 
the last advice which he had received from his astute 
father was to keep on friendly terms with England. 
With France he w^as in a chronic state of w^ ar, and the 
revolt in the ISTetherlands was daily becoming more 

* The Royal Exchange in London was opened to tlie public in 
1568, but it was some years before it was much used. It was found- 
ed by Sir Thomas Gresham, who was for a long period the financial 
agent of Elizabeth in the Netherlands. Deriving the idea of a mer- 
chants' exchange from that country, he copied to a large extent the 
exchange at Antwerp in his building, and imported an architect, 
carpenters, and most of his material from Flanders. We find from 
Gresham's correspondence that he also imported for Lord Burghley, 
who was then building a new country-house, paving-stones, wain- 
scot-galleries, chairs, and wagons. Commenting on these facts, his 
biographer somewhat naively says : " It is quite surprising to per- 
ceive to what an extent, at this period, an English edifice was in- 
debted to Continental artificers, not merely for its decorations, but 
for its most material features." — Burgon's " Life of Gresham, "ii. 115, 
116, 178. Such writers fail to recognize the condition of England. 


threatening. He therefore smothered his anger, and 
made a pretence of believing the excuses of Elizabeth, 
which never deceived any one, except perhaps herself. 

Although Elizabeth, when confronted with the peril 
of an open war, was ready enough to make excuses and 
promises to Philip, she could never bring herself, even 
if she had the power, to suppress the private war which 
her subjects were carrying on by sea. It is a great mis- 
take, however, as I have already suggested, to look upon 
this contest, at least in its early stages, as a Protestant 
warfare. Elizabeth herself fully sympathized with Alva, 
and rejoiced over his successes in the ISTetherlands.* 
Her subjects, too, had at first as little religious feeling 
as she had herself. The Catholics were in a majority 
on the western coast of England, where the pirates had 
their headquarters. In 1569 they sent thirty thousand 
pounds to Coligny to support the Huguenot cause in 
France, because their privateers were sailing under his 
colors, and preying on the commerce of their fellow- 
Catholics of France and Spain. Still, the Protestant 
leaven was at work, and the world was to advance even 
through English greed. 

We have seen how Hawkins, in his last unfortunate 
expedition, left behind him in Mexico about a hundred 
of his crew who fell into the hands of the Spaniards. 
Most of them were sent to Spain, and there turned over 
to the Inquisition, gentle means having failed to sup- 
press their practices. Subjected to the rack, their nom- 
inal Protestantism gave way, and almost all of them 
recanted. Still, recantation did not save them from pun- 
ishment for piracy, and the story was brought to Eng- 
land of the cruelties to which they were subjected. It 

*Froude, ix. 335. 


is greatly to the credit of Hawkins and the other lead- 
ing corsairs of the time that they never deserted their 
comrades when in trouble. Their wild life, and wild 
enough it was, never dulled the deep affection for men 
of their own blood which has always characterized the 
Anglo-Saxon race. In the frozen seas of the North, in 
the jungles of India, or in the deserts of Africa, the 
Englishman has always faced death with unflinching 
courage when the rescue of a countryman has been in- 
volved. Hawkins, to release his comrades, ventured into 
the very jaws of the Inquisition. Pretending to be a 
traitor to Elizabeth, and armed with a letter from Mary 
of Scotland, who was then a prisoner of her royal cous- 
in, he went to Spain, deceived Philip himself, and re- 
turned with such of his crew as were still alive. The 
King of Spain expected them to be his allies, but they 
were soon at sea again under the old flag, each one with 
his tale of Spanish cruelty to fire the hearts of his 
comrades, and to nerve himself to new schemes of ven- 

For about three years after the affair of the Italian 
money, Elizabeth seemed to feel some alarm for fear 
that she had gone too far ; but in 1572 she took part in 
an expedition which sailed under the command of a hero 
who w^as destined to a fame much wider than that of the 
great Hawkins himself. 

Francis Drake had accompanied Hawkins on his last 
ill-starred voyage, and could never forget the sufferings 
of his companions who had been taken by the Span- 
iards, nor cease to dream of the treasures which had once 
been within his grasp. Sailing from Plymouth, w^ith 
the queen as one of his partners, he spent the summer 
in the West Indies, murdering Spaniards and plundering 
their houses. Then crossing to the mainland, he inter- 
L— 26 


cepted the treasure-train on the Isthmus of Panama, and 
after securing an enormous amount of gold and silver set 
sail for England, which he reached in safety, capturing 
another gold-ship on the return voyage.* 

This expedition proved how vulnerable was Spain in 
her transatlantic possessions. The field of operations 
for the adventurers of England was expanding. Drake 
was soon to open to them all the oceans of the world. 
In 1577, he set out from Plymouth for a voyage to the 
Pacific, whose waters he had looked upon when he vis- 
ited the Isthmus of Panama. He now sailed with a fleet 
of five small vessels, the queen being again his partner, 
and the Earl of Leicester one of his large stockholders. 
His commission was equivocal ; Elizabeth, as usual, in- 
tending to repudiate him if it seemed to her advantage. 
On his part, however, there was no uncertainty of pur- 

This famous voyage lasted for three years, and its 
story reads like a romance. Creeping down the coast 
of South America, Drake passed through the Strait of 
Magellan, There the last of his companions deserted 
him, and he found himself on the waters of the broad 
Pacific with only eighty men and a single little vessel 
of one hundred and twenty tons' burden, about half the 
size of one of our fishing schooners which sail to New- 
foundland from the ports of Maine. Making his way 
northward, he plundered the Spanish villages on the 
coast; seized great heaps of silver which had been 
brought down from the mines of Peru ; captured a treas- 
ure-ship with its cargo of gold, silver, pearls, emeralds, 
and diamonds : and, almost without firing a shot or strik- 
ing a blow, loaded down his vessel with a cargo such as 

* Froude, xi. 31. 


the world had never seen before, and never has seen 
since his day. Then, turning xyestward, he continued his 
furrow around the globe, crossed the Pacific, rounded 
the Cape of Good Hope, and, in 1580, dropped anchor 
in Plymouth with his precious freight.* 

What was its value no one ever knew. The Spanish 
ambassador threatened immediate war unless it was 
returned, and Elizabeth made a show of having it in- 
ventoried and safely guarded. But the ofiicers who 
took the inventory were directed not to be too partic- 
ular, and not to interfere with Drake if he Avished to 
take any portion for himself. In the queen's council, 
opinion was divided as to the disposition of the plunder. 
Some were in favor of giving it up to Spain ; others be- 
lieved in sending it to the Prince of Orange or to the 
Huguenots in France. Elizabeth settled the controversy 
by making a liberal allowance to Drake, giving the 
shareholders who fitted out the expedition one hundred 
per cent, on their investment, and keeping the remainder 
for herself.f 

The vessel which had sailed around the world was 
taken to London and placed on exhibition. :{; In its 
cabin, Elizabeth dined with Drake, and took the occa- 
sion to knight him for his exploits. He, in return, gave 
her a diamond cross, and a crown set with enormous 
emeralds. Most of her courtiers also became the recip- 
ients of his bounty. Three, however — Sussex, Walsing- 
ham, and Burghley — who believed in war and not in 

* Magellan's vessel, with fifteen of its crew, had made the same trip 
half a century before. 

t Froude, xi. 428. 

X Hentzner saw it there in 1598. He speaks of it as the ship of 
" that noble pirate, Francis Drake." 


private pillage, declined his gifts, the latter saying that 
he did not see how in conscience he could receive pres- 
ents from a man who had nothing but what he had 
made by piracy.* 

But the conscientious scruples of Burghley were not 
shared by the people at large. To them Drake was a 
hero, and well might they admire his character. He was 
far from being a vulgar pirate, like some of his prede- 
cessors, cruising merely for plunder, and robbing friend 
and foe alike. He was a crusader of the modern type, 
possessing the qualities which have always excited the 
just admiration of his countrymen. He had a love of 
adventure, was of unflinching courage, had unbounded 
confidence in himself, and an unalterable belief that no 
one in the world was a match for an Englishman. He 
was also a religious man, as religion then went among 
the majority of men in Europe. On his famous voyage 
around the world, he took a chaplain with him, as the 
Spaniards took a priest, who regularly administered the 
communion to the crew. He was an earnest Protestant, 
at least from a civil standpoint, and probably thought 
that by plundering the papists he was doing good ser- 
vice, not only to the State but to the Lord. 

The voyages of Drake gave a great impetus to Eng- 
lish Protestantism. More than ever before, the ocean 
swarmed with the corsairs, who were willing to face even 
the Inquisition in their search for Catholic gold. But it 
was not merely a mercenary spirit which in the end ani- 
mated these rovers of the sea. It is, of course, absurd to 
invest them with a religious character, but it would be 

* Froude, xi. 429. It must be remembered by the reader that all 
through this period England was at peace with Spain, and Elizabeth 
was resolutely opposed to open war. 


equally absurd to ignore the spirit of patriotism which 
was growing more intense among them with every pass- 
ing year. 

Spain, to be sure, was at peace with England, but she 
was gradually coming to be recognized as the great foe 
of human liberty. On the other hand, although Eliza- 
beth cared nothing for principles and was anxious only 
to save herself, the people at large knew little of the 
vacillations, the inclinations to the papacy, the breaches 
of faith, and treachery to her friends which the state- 
papers now reveal, and which were the chief causes of 
her peril. She imposed few taxes, she was popular in 
her manners, and she gave her country peace. To her 
people, who underneath the surface had noble character- 
istics, she represented a principle, that of nationality; 
and, as a Protestant sovereign, an idea — that of hatred of 
the papists, and of Spain, their leading champion. Ev- 
ery corsair who set out in search of Spanish plunder 
returned more of an Englishman than ever; his island 
home was dearer to him, for it protected him from all 
his enemies ; his sovereign he worshipped, for she was 
the good genius of his fortunes. Each one, also, brought 
back his tale of the crimes against humanity perpetrated 
by the Inquisition. These actions, so far as English- 
men were concerned, might be justified legally as fair 
reprisals, but such a consideration would have no effect 
upon this people. Their rulers might stretch Jesuits 
upon the rack, or consign heretic Dutchmen to the 
flames, but it was an inexpiable offence for a foreign 
power thus to treat an Englishman.* 

* A notable, but by no means an exceptional, illustration of this 
national trait is found in Strype's " Annals of the Reformation." 
This industrious writer, who made his compilations in the early part 


Step by step the irrepressible conflict is coming on. 
Little by little England is feeling her strength, and pre- 
paring for the grand outburst of national energy which 
followed the annihilation of the Spanish Armada and 

of the eighteenth century, was a High-churchman, and an unwavering 
admirer of Elizabeth and her ecclesiastical policy. He describes, with 
apparent satisfaction, the burning afthe stake, in 1575, of two Ana- 
baptists from Holland ; men who made no disturbance, but, meeting 
quietly for private worsliip, were arrested, and, on being questioned, 
avowed opinions which the Church called heretical. He also tells 
with approval of the execution, in 1580 and 1581, of a number of 
Jesuit i^riests, who, before trial, were subjected to torture, their 
nails torn out, and their arms racked into helplessness, all for preach- 
ing in secret the doctrines of their faith. Neither these transac- 
tions, nor the subsequent executions of scores of other Catholics and 
Separatists, elicit from our venerable author one word of human 
pity ; but in 1581 an English Protestant was burned at the stake in 
Rome, and concerning his fate we find the following language : 

" But there happened this year an example of papal persecution, in 
Rome, upon an Englishman, which exceeded much any persecution 
complained of in England." The victim of this persecution was one 
Richard Atkins, of whose doings Strype himself gives this account. 
Burning with religious zeal, he left his own country, and went to 
Rome, to expose the wickedness of the pope and the idolatry of the 
people. In carrying out his enterprise, he first visited the English 
College there, rebuked the students for the great misorders of their 
lives, called the mass a " filthy sacrament," and denounced the pope 
as the Antichrist who was "poisoning the whole world with his 
abominable blasphemies." For these speeches he was arrested, but 
after a few days' confinement was set at liberty. Next, he attacked a 
priest who was carrying the Host through the streets, and attempted 
to take away the sacred emblem. This oflence, too, was overlooked. 
At last, he went to St. Peter's during mass, pushed his way to tlie 
altar, seized the chalice, throwing the wine upon the ground, and 
struggled with the priest to take away the consecrated wafer. This 
last exploit led to his martyrdom, and to Strype's denunciation of 
" papal persecution." Strype's " Annals," iii. 38. 


gave the country a new life. The exclusion of their 
wool and cloth from the markets of the IS^etherlands 
seemed to her merchants at first a dreadful calamity„ 
It led, however, as w^e have seen, to their seeking new 
markets for themselves, and thus, with an expanding 
commerce, they learned the lesson of self-confidence, 
the chief requisite of success in any calling. Accompa- 
nying this feeling was the intense national and Protes- 
tant spirit which was every day becoming more aroused 
under the running private w^ar with Spain. In the fact 
that these momentous changes were brought about 
largely through the operations of the corsairs, who rep- 
resented one marked phase of the new^ national energy, 
may be found my excuse for giving so much space to 
an account of these national heroes. 

Still, the Protestantism which the nation was acquir- 
ing in this manner had little of a religious character. 
It did well enough for Elizabeth ; it would have suited 
all her requirements that a subject should love her, hate 
the pope, and plunder the Spaniards. But there was 
another spirit abroad in the land — a spirit w^hich was to 
make England, for a time, a Puritan country ; a country 
of correct morals, and imbued with a love of justice and 
equal rights before the law. To be sure, this condition 
was not to continue long, but, considering what w^e have 
seen in the preceding pages, the wonder is that it ever 
came about at all. It is evident that the influence which 
could work such a revolution must have been a very 
potent one. In fact, it was complex in its nature, but, 
like the influences which produced the former waves of 
progress, mainly traceable to a foreign origin. Of its 
nature and the methods of its operation we shall see 
something in the next chapters. 



"We have seen in the preceding pages something of 
the rehgious condition of England during tlie first part 
of the Elizabethan age. There is nothing surprising in 
the picture, Avhen we bear in mind the prior history of 
the country, and the form which the Reformation took 
on among its people. Upon the Continent the Refor- 
mation was a religious movement ; here it was largely 
secular and political. The result, at first, was a great 
breaking-down of religion and morality, while the con- 
centration in one hand of the civil and religious power 
built up a tyranny which, in some of its features, seems 
at the present day well-nigh Asiatic in its disregard of 
human rights.* Before the century closed, however, 
the country saw a change, which was to become even 
more marked after Elizabeth had passed away. This 
change consisted in the elevation of the tone of morals 
among certain classes, and the appearance in the same 
quarter of a deep religious feeling, accompanied by a 
wide-spread demand for some measure of civil liberty. 
Such a revolution was caused little by anything within 
the nation, much less by anything within the Established 

* Hume likens it to the governments of Russia and Turkey in his 
time, and he was not as prejudiced as many persons think. 


The religious system which the English Eeformers 
constructed on the ruins of the papacy was a compro- 
mise, and, like all compromises, was disliked by the 
earnest men of either party. It retained a ritual, with 
most of the prayers and many of the forms and cere- 
monies of the old religion, while its doctrines were taken 
largely from the theology of Calvin. Such an estabhsh- 
ment, presided over by a temporal monarch who as- 
sumed almost the authority of a pope, would have been 
impossible among a people who had much deep relig- 
ious feeling. But the English, in the main, had none; 
and hence this hybrid, incongruous system might have 
worked well enough had the nation been left to itself, 
undisturbed by any foreign influence. Such an isolation 
was, however, now impossible. Upon the Continent the 
old and the new system of belief were fighting out a 
life-and-death struggle. Elizabeth tried to keep it from 
her doors; but every day an expanding commerce nar- 
rowed the channel which separated England from the 
field of conflict, and thicker and faster fell the sparks 
from the flames lighted by the warring factions. That 
some of them should take effect on British soil was, in 
the nature of things, inevitable. 

The change which came about in England, lifting it 
to a higher plane, was due mainly to the conflict be- 
tween two forces in the nation : one, a newly awakened 
Catholicism, the other the new-born Puritanism. Nei- 
ther was native to the soil ; each derived its power from 
a Continental influence. 

How true this was as to the Catholics can be seen 
from a glance at their historj'- during the first years of 
the reign of Elizabeth. As soon as she was fairly seated 
on the throne, she required all the priests and dignita- 
ries of the old Church to conform to the Protestant 


formularies, and a very small number of them refused 
compliance.* This outward conformity, however, was 
not sufficient. As time went on, more and more strin- 
gent laws were passed against even the private practice 
of the ancient rites. The Romanists were found mostly 
in the rural districts of the North and West, the least 
advanced sections of the kingdom, and there the old 
priests, disguised sometimes so as to resemble Protestant 
preachers, flitted about from house to house, or found 
concealment in the mansions of the wealthy squires and 
nobles. Persecution, of course, only increased the fer- 
vor of those who entertained sincere convictions, but 
these were few in number. Some passed over to the 
Continent and took up arms in France or Spain. Among 
those who remained at home, religious feeling seemed 
almost dying out. 

In 1568, Mary Stuart fled to England, seeking a refuge 
from her insurgent subjects. She found a prison-house, 
in which her restless spirit was to chafe for nineteen 
years, until released by the headsman's axe. As a Cath- 
olic and the next heir to the throne, she became the 
centre, consciously or unconsciously, of endless plots 
against the government. The year after her arrival, 
some of the great Catholic earls of the North rose in 
open rebellion; but the people, on whose support they 
counted, refused assistance, and the leaders took the 
well-w^orn path to the Tower, and thence to the place 
of execution. The next year, the pope issued his bull 
of excommunication against Elizabeth, but even this fell 
harmless. In Scotland a religious war was waging ; in 
Italy, Spain, France, and the Netherlands, the Catholics 
were aH aflame with religious zeal, but in England they 

* Hallam's " Const. Hist.," i. 120. 


seemed sunk in a listless torpor. At last, however, a 
change came over them ; the torpor was shaken off, a 
spiritual fervor took its place, and the listless, inoffensive 
papists seemed about to become a power in the land. 
To understand the influences which brought about this 
transformation, we must leave England and cast our 
eyes across the Channel. 

In the Protestant view of the period covered by the 
Reformation, we are sometimes disposed, while consid- 
ering the great intellectual awakening which brought 
the Protestants into being, to overlook its effects upon 
those who remained true to Mother Church. It should 
be remembered, however, that the teachings of Luther 
and Calvin would have produced slight results but for 
the general spread of knowledge by which they were 
preceded, and that the same cause effected a revival of 
spiritual zeal among the Pomanists. The world was 
shaking off the intellectual sleep of a^s. As men awoke, 
many of them turned to religion, and such men, through 
the influence of nature or environment, were divided 
into Protestants and Catholics. It would be a great 
mistake to suppose that all the reformers were on one 
side, or that honesty of purpose was confined to one re- 
ligious party. All over Europe were scattered earnest 
Catholics, burning with enthusiasm and devoted to their 
Church, but fully conscious of the corruptions which 
were eating out its heart. 

Shortly after Luther opened his crusade against the 
papacy, a society was formed which gave to these spir- 
its a rally ing-point within their Church, and an organ- 
ization through which to work. It was the Order of the 
Jesuits ; its founder was Ignatius Loyola. Loyola was 
a Spanish knight, brought up at the court of Ferdinand, 
and distinguished for his gallantry among a race of sol- 


diers. la 1521, when thirty years of age, he was se- 
verely wounded at the siege of Pampeluna. A long ill- 
ness followed, which left him lamed for life. During 
his tedious confinement he took up, to while away the 
time, a life of the Saviour, and a volume containing the 
lives of the saints. The latter inflamed an ardent imag- 
ination, fed before on tales of chivalry alone. What 
others had done, as was there recorded, he thought that 
he could do himself, and so determined to live a life of 
abstinence, penitence, and holiness. In a vision the Vir- 
gin appeared before him, with the holy infant in her 
arms, and blessed his resolution. Upon emerging from 
the sick-room, he sold his little property, gave the pro- 
ceeds to the Church, and set out on a pilgrimage to Jeru- 
salem. Eeturning in safety, having begged his way and 
suffered untold hardships, he entered upon a course of 
study. Practising the most rigorous austerities, and vis- 
ited in dreams at times by angels and then by demons, 
he passed several years in various universities, finally 
drifting to Paris. There he found two men of great in- 
tellectual power who shared his mystic belief and be- 
came his life associates — Peter Faber, a Savoyard, and a 
Spaniard, Francisco Xavier. They formed a little band, 
sworn to chastity and poverty, and devoted to the con- 
version of sinners at home and the heathen abroad. Join- 
ing other companions with them, in 1537 they went to 
Pome, calling themselves the Company of Jesus. In 
151:0, they were formally organized, adding to their pre- 
vious vows one of unquestioning obedience to their gen- 
eral, whom they elected for life. 

Thus established, upon principles which attracted the 
fervent sympathy of a newly awakened Catholic world, 
this order placed itself at the absolute disposal of the 
pope. In the contest with the reformers outside the 


Church, it became the chief support of the papacy, and 
to its efforts, more than to any other cause, was clue the 
check which was placed upon the progress of the Ref- 
ormation. How well the Jesuits, as they were soon 
called by others, met the wants and the spirit of the age 
in CathoUc countries is shown by the rapidity with 
which they spread through Europe, and the vast power 
which they soon acquired. What earnest soul, believing 
in the doctrines of Catholicism, could fail to be moved 
by the self-abnegation and the heroism which these men 
displayed ? At the outset they appealed simply to the 
principle of duty, the great word of power in every lan- 
guage. Loyola, the first general of the order, performed 
the most menial services in his church at Rome, taught 
classes of little children, and collected alms for the Jews 
and for abandoned women, in the work of whose refor- 
mation he labored with unflagging zeal until his death 
from pure exhaustion. 

Their missionaries sought out the heathen in every 
land. The history of the world shows nothing compa- 
rable with their heroic labors in this direction. At the 
first organization of the society the Avork began. In 
154:1, Xavier went to the Portuguese East Indies. At 
the time of his death, ten years later, he and his associ- 
ates could number the converts to their faith by the tens 
of thousands. They carried the crucifix through India, 
China, the isles of the Pacific, and even Africa, two 
centuries before the Protestants began their work, ex- 
cept by sending out a straggling preacher here and 
there. In the Is'ew World, their efforts were equally 
extensive. Everywhere they followed in the wake of 
the ferocious Spaniards, largely mitigating the horrors 
of their conquests. In Paraguay, they established al- 
most a paradise on earth. Even among the savage 


tribes of Canada their work of civilization was not un- 

Yery different from the life of many a modern mis- 
sionary was that of these pioneers in the heathen field. 
JSTothing since the early days of Christianity equals the 
hardships which they suffered, the perils which they 
faced. Men of high birth and delicate nurture plunged 
into the wilderness, and passed years without even the 
sight of any friendly faces, except those of the dusky 
savages about them, and with no future except the cer- 
tainty of martyrdom. The posts of greatest danger, 
where they could have a choice, were the ones to which 
they flocked. Thus, when the news reached Europe 
that a member of their order had, in Japan, denied the 
faith — and this was almost the only instance in their 
history — volunteers sprang up from every quarter pray- 
ing for permission to go there and vindicate the truth. 
The prayers of many were granted, and all of these 
volunteers laid down their lives amid horrible tortures; 
with them the recusant himself, who, repenting of his 
weakness, went before the magistrates and acknowl- 
edged that he also was a Christian.f 

In Europe the Jesuits did a work much greater than 
that accomplished in foreign lands. To their efforts 
was largely due the purification of the Romish Church 
from the gross abuses which had aroused the indigna- 

* See Parkman's " Jesuits in North America." 

t By way of contrast, it may here be noted that two hundred 
years after the foundation of the Jesuit missions in Asia, the English 
East India Company refused, " for weighty and substantial reasons," 
to permit the Gospel to be preached in its provinces, even by Prot- 
estant missionaries. Mackenzie's "Nineteenth Century," book ii. 
chap. ix. 


tion of mankind. They took no money for a mass; 
they refused to confess a woman unless in the presence 
of a brother priest ; they practised and enforced upon 
their pupils strict chastity of hfe ; and they never sacri- 
ficed the interests of their order to any consideration of 
selfish ease. Unlike the members of the old monastic 
organizations, they wore no peculiar garb, but dressed 
like the ordinary clergy, or, when deemed advisable, 
even adopted the costume of the country in which they 
lived. 'No time was spent by them in idle ceremonies, 
but they devoted themselves to an active life as preach- 
ers, teachers, and confessors. Recognizing the spirit of 
the age, instead of disparaging science they took a lead- 
ing part in its development. They cultivated literature, 
and won high renown as scholars — oratory, and became 
the first preachers in the Church. 

But their greatest pre-eminence was attained in the 
]3rovince of education. Knowing that as the twig is 
bent the tree will be inclined, they devoted their chief 
energies to the training of the young. All over Catho- 
lic Europe they established schools, in which the instruc- 
tion was entirely free. Reversing the old traditions un- 
der which teachers and scholars were natural enemies, 
they won the love and confidence of their pupils, bind- 
ing them by chains of affection which no time could 
weaken. Preparatory schools took up children in their 
infancy, and thence they were transferred to colleges 
which turned them out as finished scholars, in everything 
except the power of thinking for themselves in matters 
of religion. The system which they established was a 
vast machine for enrolling and disciplining an army of 
civilians, sworn to obey the orders of their leader, and 
that leader they looked up to as God's representative 
on earth. 


"While thus training the rising generation, they did 
not, however, neglect those who had already reached ma- 
turity. Here their chief influence was exerted through 
the confessional. Rigid in their own lives, they gained 
the respect and confidence of the sincere. These formed 
their early followers. But as time rolled on, after the 
death of Loyola, it was charged, and perhaps not un- 
justly, that for others they made religion comfortable^ 
In a sense very different from that intended by the great 
apostle, they became all things to all men ; not to save 
the men, but to build up the power of their order. To 
their own members, however, no relaxation of discipline 
was shown, and no body of soldiers, working together 
or as single scouts, ever showed more clearly what dis- 
cipline and intensity of purpose can accomplish. When 
they were first organized Loyola had nine companions; 
in sixteen years the nine had grown to a thousand ; by 
the end of the century they numbered over ten times as 
many. They then had obtained the chief direction of 
the education of youth in every Catholic country of Eu- 
rope. They had become the confessors of almost all its 
monarchs, and of almost every person eminent for rank 
or power, thus holding in their keeping the secrets of 
governments and of individuals without number.'^ 

Such was the all-powerful organization which sprang 
up to fight the battles of Catholicism against the Refor- 
mation. In after-years it became one of the curses of 

* Robertson's " Cliarles V." Bacon, who knew of what he spoke, 
pays the Jesuits the liigh tribute of having " enterprised to reform 
the discipline and manners of the Church of Rome," and, with Luther 
and the divines of the Protestant Church, " awaked to their great 
honor and succour all human learning." — Bacon's " Filum Laby- 


the world, and among Protestants the name Jesuit is 
often synonymous with the atrocious doctrine that the 
end justifies the means. There is no danger that the 
crimes or the pernicious influence exerted by some of 
the members of this order will ever be overlooked. 
Still, it is not consistent with historic truth, while paint- 
ing their dark side to conceal their virtues, or to deny 
the great services which they have rendered to human- 
ity. Too much of this has been done in the heat of 
controversy, while the opposite rule has been applied 
to the Protestant reformers, and especially to our own 
ancestors, English and American, This mode of deal- 
ing with the characters of the dead is sometimes, ap- 
parently, considered to be in the interest of patriotism or 
religion. It is very difficult, however, to reconcile it with 
morality, except by adopting the principle imputed to 
the Jesuits, which mankind unite in holding up to ex- 
ecration. One thing is very certain, no one can under- 
stand the religious history of the sixteenth century, in 
which the Company of Jesus came into existence, who 
fails to recognize the honesty and devotion to principle 
which actuated the great majority of its members. 

When the order arose, the papacy was confronted by 
enemies from within as well as from without. Protes- 
tantism was sweeping over Europe and carrying every- 
thing before it. The Jesuits, by proclaiming the prin- 
ciple of reform within the Church, stayed its tide and 
confined it within its present narrow limits. But they 
did much more than this for the pope himself. Many 
of the Catholic rulers and a number of the bishops were 
disposed to dispute the authority of the head of the 
Church. Every one knows how readily the people of 
England accepted their king in place of the pope of 
Rome, and the feeling which led to this action was not 
I.— 27 


unknown in other lands. A number of the French and 
Spanish prelates asserted that an oecumenical council 
could control the holy see, and claimed that they held 
a commission from Heaven, independent of the pope. 
At the Council of Trent, which settled some of these 
questions, the representative of the Jesuits, speaking in 
the name of the whole fraternity, proclaimed that the 
government of the faithful had been committed by 
Christ to the pope alone ; that in him all sacerdotal au- 
thority was concentrated ; and that through him only 
priests and bishops derived their divine authority.* It 
was largely owing to the efforts of the Jesuits that a 
formal decree of this famous Council established the 
jurisdiction of the pope as an article of Catholic faith, 
leaving the question of his infallibility in matters of 
doctrine to be settled by future generations. 

Thus the Catholic Church stood fully committed to 
the theory of the papal jurisdiction, and, abandoning 
the defensive, entered upon an aggressive policy. How 
it crushed out heresy in Italy and Spain, how it curbed 
the Keformation in Germany, and throttled it in France, 
are familiar stories. How the Jesuits carried their mis- 
sionary work to Asia, Africa, and tlie New "World, we 
have already noticed. "We have also seen something of 
the death-struggle going on in the ITetherlands. In the 
crusade which the Church was carrying on, to win back 
the recusants and to gain new converts, England came 
last. It had been purely Catholic until the da3^s of 
Henry the Kef ormer ; it had been again nominally Cath- 
olic for a brief period under Queen Mary; it was now 
nominally Protestant under Queen Elizabeth; in fact, 
it was in some respects almost a pure missionary field. 

* Macaulay's " England," ii. 54, and authorities cited. 


This the papal authorities recognized after a few years' 
experience, and they set about its cultivation with sys- 
tem and deliberation. 

The great obstacle in England to a religious awaken- 
ing of any kind lay in the general ignorance of the 
people, including the clergy. The priests of the old 
Church who remained at home had little education, and 
those of the new establishment were mostly in the same 
condition. The first thing, therefore, to be done by the 
Catholics, if they wished to gain the advantage of their 
adversaries, was to educate preachers who would ex- 
pound anew to these islanders the doctrines which. their 
fathers had accepted without question. This work was 
begun in 1568 by the establishment at Douay, now a 
city of France, of a college for the education of Eng- 
lish Catholics. It was founded under the auspices of 
Philip IL, and was conducted by a number of profess- 
ors from Oxford, who had taught in that university 
during the reign of Mary, but who had fled to the Con- 
tinent to avoid the persecution of Elizabeth. During 
the rule of Eequesens in the Low Countries it was re- 
moved to Eheims, and in 1579 it was supplemented 
by another college, founded at Eome by Pope Greg- 
ory XIII. The pupils instructed at these institutions, 
which were wholly free both as to board and educa- 
tion, stood pledged to return to England and preach 
the doctrines of the old religion. 

The enterprise flourished from the outset. Three 
years after its opening, the college at Douay contained 
one hundred and fifty pupils. Three years later, in 
15Y4, these missionaries began crossing the Channel to 
revive the drooping faith of their compatriots. In four 
years more, the Spanish minister at London was able 
to write to Philip that there were a hundred of these 


young priests disguised as laymen, doing missionary 
work in England. Their success was marked and im- 
mediate. The Catholic gentry, inspired by their fer- 
vor, began to pluck up courage ; they refused to attend 
the Anglican service, as required by law, and some open- 
ly avowed their ancient faith. The government soon 
became alarmed. In 15Y8 Parliament was convened, 
and passed a law making the landing of these semi- 
nary priests, or the harboring of them, treason, and in 
N'ovember of the same year one of their number, Cuth- 
bert Mayne, was tried and executed. 

Still, these young men, although full of zeal and burn- 
ing with enthusiasm, formed but a skirmish line; be- 
hind them stood a body of trained warriors, anxious to 
battle, and, if need be, die, for their religion. The lat- 
ter belonged to the Company of Jesus, which had taken 
into its ranks the ablest and most promising of the Eng- 
lish refugees. Chief among them were Edmund Cam- 
pian and Robert Parsons, both of whom had been fel- 
lows of Oxford. Campian, who was born in 1540, was 
the more brilliant of the two. At the age of twenty 
he had delivered an oration at Amy Eobsart's funeral, 
at twenty-six he had gained great favor in the eyes of 
Elizabeth by the skill with which he had disputed be- 
fore her when she visited the university. The next year, 
although a Catholic at heart, he was ordained a deacon 
in the English Church, but this step was followed by deep 
spiritual anguish. He left Oxford, lived for a time in 
Ireland, writing a,n interesting sketch of the condition of 
that country, and finally passed over to the Continent and 
settled in the university at Rheims. There he was rec- 
ognized as an eloquent preacher and learned theologian. 
Parsons, some five years younger, was less of a preacher, 
but cool, clear-headed, and sagacious as a leader. 


"When, in 1580, the pope decided to send a band of 
Jesuits to England to complete the work of re-establish- 
ing the Romish Church, Parsons and Campian were se- 
lected to head the mission. Proceeding to Rome, they 
received the papal blessing, and thence set out with 
seven companions, Oxford graduates and Jesuits like 
themselves, to encounter their expected martyrdom. 
Singly and in disguise they crossed the Channel, meet- 
ino- with a welcome which must have raised their wild- 
est hopes. Campian had been instructed to abstain en- 
tirely from politics, and devote himself solely to the 
work of conversion. He went at once to London, then 
the very stronghold of English Protestantism, and di- 
rectly after his arrival preached to a vast audience in a 
hall hired for him in the middle of the city. Warned 
of his intended arrest, he then fled into the country, 
and his companions dispersed to carry their teachings 
into every county of the kingdom. To them the field 
seemed white for the harvest. Young men flocked to 
them with all the fervor of youth, the old came for- 
ward offering to lay down the remnant of their lives 
for the holy cause. The ignorance and looseness of 
living among the ministers of the Established Church 
excited their just indignation, while they were cheered 
and encouraged by hearing that the honesty of a Catho- 
lic had passed into a proverb.* Within a few months 

* Campian's letter to the general of the Jesuits. Froude, xi. 346. 
The Church of Rome, thanks to the efforts of the Jesuits, had at this 
time been largely purged of tlie scandals which had brought about 
the Reformation. The tables were now turned, in England at least, 
and the Catholics could retort on the Protestants much of what had 
been denounced in them half a century before. Hallam, writing of 
this period, says : " After the Council of Trent had effected such 
considerable reforms in the Catholic discipline, it seemed a sort of 


after their arrival, Father Allen, the head of the college 
at Rheims, triumphantly announced that there were 
twenty thousand more Catholics in England than a 
year before. 

This exultation was, however, of short life. The 
Jesuits landed on the English shores in June, 1580c 
By December, Walsingham, Elizabeth's great secretary, 
whose spies were everywhere, had most of the original 
party under lock and key. Then followed the rack and 
the headsman's axe. Parsons escaped to the Continent, 
and Campian eluded arrest for six months more ; but he, 
too, was taken the next July, and, in December, after 
bearing the extremity of torture, met the death of a 
martyr with the constancy which became a member of 
his order. 

But this did not end the movement. The pope had 
shown sagacity in sending to England as missionaries 
only native-born Englishmen, and those mostly in the 
flush of manhood. Their fervor was infectious, for no 
one could doubt the sincerity of convictions which they 
were at all times ready to seal with their blood, and 
here, as elsewhere, extreme persecution only bred new 
converts. After the death of Campian, Jesuits and 
seminary priests flocked in by tens and twenties, so 
that in three years, as it was reported, there were five 
hundred in the kingdom.^ Unquestionably a consider- 
able number of the people loved the old Church, with 
its gorgeous ceremonial appealing directly to the senses, 
and its articles of faith hallowed by the traditions of 

reproach to the Protestant Cliurch of England that she retained all 
the dispensations, the exemptions, the pluralities, which had been 
deemed the peculiar corruptions of the worst times of popery." 
— " Const. Hist.," i. 194. * Froude, xi. 648. 


centuries ; while the great majority were indifferent, 
and so open to conviction.* Men in dweUing upon the 
past are inclined to retain only their pleasurable recol- 
lections. When these young priests, themselves pure 
of life and devoted wholly to the Church, opened their 
crusade, the abuses of the former system were largely 
forgotten, while its beauties and benefactions were well 

Taking all the conditions together, there is noth- 
ing strange about the early successes of the Jesuits in 
their effort to bring England back to the ancient faith, 
or in the fact that they fully believed in the ultimate 

* The question of the proportion of Catholics to Protestants in 
England during the reign of Elizabeth is one as to which author- 
ities differ -widely, and which, from its nature, never can be de- 
termined. Froude thinks that the Catholics were in a very large 
majority; on the other hand, Hallam estimates the Protestants to 
have made up two thirds of the nation, while Lingard is of opinion 
that in the middle of the reign the two parties were about equally 
divided. Such estimates, founded merely on the opinions of mod- 
ern writers as to the general predispositions of the people, are of 
very little significance. As Macaulay has well said, the important 
question is, how many of the nation had made up their minds on 
either side and were willing to run any risks for their opinions ? The 
history of the times shows conclusively that these were very few. 
Cardinal Bentivoglio, who was papal nuncio at Brussels from 1607 
to 1G16, estimated the number of earnest Catholics in England 
during that period at about one thirtieth of the nation. The people 
who would without scruple become Catholic if the Catholic religion 
were established, he estimated at four fifths of the nation. With 
this estimate Macaulay concurs, and he expresses the opinion that 
at the accession of Elizabeth not one twentieth of the people had 
any earnest convictions in either direction. Essay on Nares's "Me- 
moirs of Burleigh." The great problem of the time, therefore, was the 
determination of the question which party should develop and in- 
crease so as to control the State. 


triumph of their cause. But there were obstacles in 
their path which proved insuperable. 

In the first place, the religious question could not be 
separated from the political one. Campian and his as- 
sociates might preach only the doctrines of a Church, 
which, freed from its abuses, appealed to some of the 
noblest elements in human nature. But back of them 
stood a power to which they had sworn unquestioning 
obedience — a power that claimed the right of deposing 
monarchs, and was now coming to be recognized as 
the foe of the national existence. Most of her troubles 
Elizabeth had brought upon herself, but they were no 
less real on that account. Already she had been excom- 
municated by the pope. Across the Channe], the Guises 
were plotting for the release of Mary Stuart, and Philip 
of Spain was being goaded into action by the aggres- 
sions of the British pirates. What was going on in Ire- 
land and Scotland, where the pope was also at work, 
will be shown in a later chapter. When the peaceful 
missionaries had prepared the way, a foreign invasion 
would make short work of English nationality. 

All this is apparent enough to the modern historian, 
as it was to the English statesmen of the time, who set 
out with ruthless ferocity to crush the Catholic revival. 
But the love of nationality, on which they relied, would 
have availed little against religious zeal had there not 
been another party in the State, made up of men as ear- 
nest, as devoted, and as zealous as the Catholics them- 
selves. These were the Puritans. To Elizabeth they were 
much more obnoxious than the papists ever were, and yet 
but for them she never would have died peacefully upon 
the throne. It was largely through their labors that her 
ministers were enabled to stay the tide of the returning 
Catholicism which threatened to ingulf the land. It was 


with their development that England was again brought 
into close relations with the civilization of the Old World, 
imbibing new ideas of civil liberty, and receiving an im- 
pulse which has carried her to the forefront among na- 
tions. Later on, they founded New England, giving an 
impress to the character of untold millions across the 
ocean. Thus affecting two continents, the Puritans of 
England have played a part in the world's history which 
makes the subject of their origin and growth one of un- 
failing interest. 

From the death of Cromwell until within a compara- 
tively recent time, it was the fashion among British 
writers to ridicule the English Puritans, just as it has 
been the fashion to ridicule the Hollanders. The Cava- 
liers, who went down before them in battle, and who 
saw the Commonwealth raise England to a leading place 
in European politics, hated, but had an intense respect 
for, Cromwell and his Ironsides. It was not until after 
the Eestoration, when the Stuarts had bemired the fame 
and honor of England, that the great virtues of the Puri- 
tans seemed to be forgotten, and men thought only of 
their faults and of those external peculiarities which are 
so easily caricatured and satirized.* The prejudice 
against them after the Restoration was not universal, 
however, for, as in the case of the Hollanders, men were 
always found to do them honor. IN'otable among these 

* TheEuglish Puritans antedated Shakespeare, and during his life 
played an important part in politics ; yet the great dramatist, unlike 
some of his petty followers, never regarded them as objects of ridi- 
cule. We find in his pages almost every type of knave and bufibon, 
but no snivelling, canting, Puritanical hypocrite or rogue, such as 
more modern writers have depicted. In fact, although in common 
use, the word Puritan occurs but a very few times in Shakespeare's 
plays, and then scarcely in an offensive sense. 


men was Hume, the apologist of the Stuarts and the 
champion of the Tory party. 

Speaking of the arbitrary nature of Elizabeth's govern- 
ment, and of the fact that her most violent assaults on 
the freedom of the people attracted not the least atten- 
tion from contemporaneous writers, Hume remarks : "So 
absolute, indeed, was the authority of the crown that 
the precious spark of libert}'- had been kindled and was 
preserved by the Puritans alone ; and it was to this sect, 
whose principles appear so frivolous and habits so ridic- 
ulous, that the English owe the whole freedom of their 
Constitution." * Again, discussing the same question 
in another place, he says : " It was only during the 
next generation that the noble principles of liberty took 
root, and, spreading themselves under the shelter of Pu- 
ritanical absurdities, became fashionable among the peo- 
ple." f 

Such ideas were not fashionable in England when 
Hume's history was written. As he relates in his auto- 
biography, he " was assailed by one cry of reproach, dis- 
approbation, and even detestation," from every side and 
from every party. The Tories were indignant that any 
credit should be given to the Puritans, and the Whigs 
were no less indignant at the suggestion that English 
liberty began w^ith the growth of Puritanism ; for they 
had always claimed that the Stuarts had attempted 
to deprive the people of long- settled, well-established 

Hallam, in his " Constitutional History," questions 

* " History of Englaud," chap. xl. t Idem, Appendix, vol. iii. 

J How the High - clmrclimen hated the Puritans is shown in al- 
most every page of Strype's " Annals," written in the early part of 
the eighteenth century. 


some of the conclusions of Hume, and takes that author 
severely to task for comparing the government of Eng- 
land during the reign of Elizabeth with the governments 
of Russia and Turkey. But Hallam himself is one of 
the best witnesses to the almost despotic character of 
Elizabeth's rule. Even more fully than Hume himself, 
he shows how the laws were constantly set aside by 
royal proclamations ; how the courts of justice were mere 
instruments of tyranny ; how trade was shackled by 
monopolies in every quarter ; how imports and exports 
were taxed by the crown alone ; how Parliament was 
prevented from discussing questions of Church or State, 
and how its members who attempted to raise forbidden 
questions were silenced by imprisonment. But, he says, 
liberty was not dead, because the House of Commons ex- 
ercised some rights: it insisted on being the judge of the 
election of its own members ; its members w^ere exempt 
from arrest on civil process ; and it claimed the right of 
punishment for contempt. These privileges, all novel, 
were to become important in the future, but they were 
of little value at the time. Elizabeth packed the House 
by the creation of sixty-two new boroughs, and was will- 
ing to let its members play at Parliament, so long as 
they did nothing to interfere with her prerogative. But 
Hallam says further that Parliament was not wholly sub- 
servient, for, from time to time, voices were raised there 
against the tyranny of the crown, and that these voices 
became more numerous as the years rolled on. This is 
true. They were the voices of the men who, according 
to Hume, kindled the precious spark of liberty in des- 
potic times. 

After all, so far as relates to the influence of the Puri- 
tans, these authors differ but slightly. Hume says that 
they kindled and preserved the spark ; Hallam says that 


they became "the depositaries of the sacred fire" and 
" revived the smouldering embers." * 

But whatever may have been the relation of the Puri- 
tans to the sacred fire of liberty, certain it is that, with- 
in the period of a few years, they worked a revolution 
in English thought and action which is one of the re- 
markable phenomena of modern times, and, standing by 
itself, incapable of comprehension.f New ideas were in- 

* " Const. Hist," i. 231. 

t Macaulay, the champion of the Whigs, ^Yl•itiug nearly a century 
after Hume, says, in regard to the arbitrary rule of Elizabeth : "It 
has often been alleged, as an excuse for the misgovernment of her 
successors, that they only followed her example ; that precedents 
might be found in the transactions of her reign for persecuting the 
Puritans, for levying money without the sanction of the House of 
Commons, for confining men without bringing them to trial, for in- 
terfering with the liberty of parliamentary debate. All this may be 
true. But it is no good plea for her successors, and for this plain 
reason, that they were her successors. Slie governed one generation, 
they governed another; and between the two generations there was 
almost as little in common as between the people of two different 
countries." Upon the causes of this transformation, however, Ma- 
caulay, like other English writers, throws but little light. Essay 
on Nares's "Memoirs of Burleigh." In this essay, Macaulay also calls 
in question some of the conclusions of Hume regarding the despotic 
character of Elizabeth's government. He does not dispute the facts, 
but argues that her rule could not have been despotic, for had it been 
so her subjects would have risen against her in successful revolution, 
This argument, however, proves too much ; for, tried by such a test, 
no monarch could be called a despot, except one who had been de- 
posed by his subjects. As for the aff"ection entertained for Elizabeth 
by the English, it is sufficient to remark that no monarch, in life and 
after death, was ever more loved by his people than was Philip II. 
by the Spaniards. This does not prove that Philip respected any 
principles of constitutional liberty, but that his Spanish subjects 
cared nothing for such principles. He was loved by his people be- 
cause he upheld the papacy, and tried to extend the power of 


troduced, and new principles were developed by them, 
which for a time controlled the nation and left their im- 
print on the national character, although at no time 
were they accepted by the body of the people. It was 
the very novelty of their principles that made the Puri- 
tans, when they came into power, so obnoxious to the 
majority of Englishmen, and that for many after-genera- 
tions made their name a by-word and reproach. At the 
restoration of the Stuarts, England seemed to have done 
with them forever. But, although the prejudice against 
the name continued, many of their reforms survived, 
and a few years of the old tyranny were suflacient to 
breed a new revolution and effect the reinstatement of 
still more of the Puritan principles in civil matters. 
These principles have never been adopted in England as 
fully as in the United States, where they underlie all the 
institutions ; but as the English form of government has 
become more democratic, the tide has turned, and to-day 
the name of Puritan is a title of honor. 

Yet, with this change of sentiment, there has been little 
change in the mode of writing English history in one im- 
portant point. Whether the Puritan is looked upon as 
kindling the flame, or as reviving the smouldering em- 
bers of liberty, England is still represented as the fountain 
from which have poured forth all the fertilizing streams 
which have enriched the modern world. One class of 
writers gives the Puritan the credit of originality ; the 
other endows him with a knowledge of early English in- 

Spain; in the same way, Elizabeth was loved by her people because 
she was believed to oppose the papacy, and did extend the power of 
England. In this connection it may be noticed that Good Queen 
Bess was no more the idol of her people than was her father, Bluff 
King Hal, under whom, certainly, there was little liberty. 


stitutions, only unfolded to us by the patient research of 
modern investigators. Each ignores all the foreign in- 
fluences which at this crucial period shaped the future 
of the English people. But, in fact, the ideas and prin- 
ciples of the Puritans in civil as well as religious mat- 
ters were not indigenous to English soil. They were in 
the main not only novel in England, but also of foreign 
growth, and, being transplanted, they took root but slow- 
ly, and after a brief efflorescence lived, for a time, but a 
sickly life. Where they came from and how they were 
brought to England are interesting questions, involving 
an examination of the development of English Puritan- 
ism on lines quite different from those usually followed. 
The accession of Elizabeth to the throne of England, on 
ISTovember 17th, 1558, was hailed with joy by all classes 
in the nation, except the few fanatical bigots who had 
sympathized with the bloody persecutions of her sister 
Mary. The Protestants saw in the young queen a daugh- 
ter of the marriage which had brought about a separa- 
tion from the Church of Eome, and upon that fact, and 
upon her Protestant education, based their hopes of the 
future. The Catholics knew that she had professed their 
creed during the reign just ended, and felt assured that 
she had none of the bigotry which would endanger their 
personal safety, even if she went back to her earlier 
faith. All had heard of her as a young princess of 
studious habits, who had borne imprisonment with ex- 
emplary patience, looking every inch a queen, and yet 
with manners modest and affable.* 

* Signer Soranzo, the Venetian ambassador, writing home in 1554, 
four years earlier, when Elizabeth was twenty-one, says : " Such an air 
of dignified majesty pervades all her actions that no one can fail to 
judge her a queen. She is a good Greek and Latin scholar, and, 


The first act of the queen was the selection of Sir 
"William Cecil, the famous Lord Burghley, as her chief 
secretary and confidential adviser. Cecil had been the 
secretary of her brother Edward, but after his death 
had conformed to the Catholic religion, as Elizabeth had 
done ; although Mary had looked upon his conversion 
with distrust, and refused to give him any public office. 
He had always been friendly to Elizabeth, and she never 
showed greater wisdom than in choosing him for her 
leading councillor. What was to be the religion of the 
State no one knew at first, and the conduct of the queen 
left the question doubtful. She attended mass, she bur- 
ied her sister with all the solemnities of the Catholic 
ritual, and ordered prayers to be said for the soul of 
Charles Y., who had just died. On the other hand, she 
released all the prisoners confined for their religion by 
her sister, allowed the Protestant exiles to return from 
the Continent, and when the Bishop of Carlisle was about 
to say mass in the royal chapel, she gave orders that the 
Host should not be elevated in her presence.* At about 
the same time a proclamation was issued forbidding all 
preaching in the kingdom. Evidently some intelligence 
was aAvaited before a final decision could be reached. It 
came, and it determined the religious history of England. 

Immediately upon the death of Mary, messengers had 
been despatched to the different courts of Europe to an- 

besides her native tongue, she speaks Latin, French, Spanish, and 
Italian lenissimo ; and her manners are very modest and affixble." 
Ravvdon Brown's "Calendar State Papers," 1554, from "Venetian 
Archives;" quoted in a charming little book, " English Lands, Let- 
ters, and Kings, from Celt to Tudor," by Donald G. Mitchell (New 
York), p. 209. Scores of witnesses testify as to what her manners 
became when she had been a few years upon the throne. 

* Lingard's "History of England "(Philadelphia, 1827), vii. 305. 


nounce the succession of Elizabeth. It was known that 
the French king would not recognize her title, for the 
Dauphin had married Mary Stuart, who claimed the Eng- 
lish crown. But Philip of Spain was the natural enemy 
of France ; he had always professed a friendship for his 
sister-in-law, and now that he was a widower he offered 
her his hand. Such a marriage, however, required a dis- 
pensation from the pope. Unfortunately for the Catholic 
cause, the papal throne was occupied by a pontiff (Paul 
ly.), who was over eighty years old, narrow-minded, and 
under the influence of France. When, therefore, the Eng- 
lish ambassador announced the accession of Elizabeth, 
the pope replied that he was unable to comprehend the 
hereditary right of one who was not born in lawful wed- 
lock ; that the Queen of Scots claimed the crown as the 
nearest legitimate descendant of Henry YII. ; but that if 
Elizabeth was willing to submit the controversy to his 
arbitration, she should receive from him every indulgence 
which justice could allow.* 

With such a rebuff from Kome, which cut off all hopes 
of a Spanish marriage, and with an adverse claimant to 
the crown, who was a Catholic and supported by the 
power of France, nothing remained to Elizabeth, what- 
ever her inclinations, except to announce herself as a 
Protestant queen. Still, secrecy was maintained until 
arrangements could be completed for assembling a new 
Parliament. A commission was privatelj^ set at work 

* Lingard, vii. 204 ; Creighton's " Age of Elizabeth " (New York, 
1885), p. 46. Paul died in the succeeding August, 1559. His suc- 
cessor, Pius IV., was a man of very different ideas. He sent a nuncio 
to England, offering, it is said, to approve of the Book of Common 
Prayer, provided only that the English Church would submit to the 
papal supremacy. But the offer came too late. The nuncio was not 
even allowed to enter England. Creighton, p. 50. 


to revise the Prayer-book of Edward YI, Some of the 
old bishops were imprisoned, and four or five new Prot- 
estant peers created so as to control the upper House. 
The lower House was filled in the usual manner. During 
the reign of Mary, the sheriffs had been instructed to 
see that only good Catholics were returned as members. 
Now they were instructed to have a choice made from a 
list of candidates furnished by the court.* On January 
15th, 1559, Elizabeth was formally crowned, one of the 
old bishops consenting to officiate, using the rites of 
the Catholic Church. On January 25th the new Par- 
liament began its session. Of the bishops, only ten were 
in attendance and voting ; of the sixty-one peers, thirty 
were conspicuous by their absence.f The lower House 
was made up of court nominees, distinguished for their 
zeal in the cause of Protestantism. 

The Parliament, thus constituted, in a session of three 
months, reconstructed the English Church, w^hich, with 
little change, has continued on the basis then established 
until the present day. The packed members of the lower 
House knew nothing of the vacillation of the queen. They 
were decided in their opposition to the Church of Eome, 
and had no question of her entire sympathy. As English- 
men, they had the traditional reverence for the crown 
which w^ould lead them to pass almost any measure which 
came to them with the royal recommendation. Proceed- 
ing in a few days to give to the crown the first-fruits (that 
is, the first year's income of all church livings) and tenths 
(that is, one tenth of all incomes thereafter), they began 
by enacting two statutes, which are of great importance 
as affecting all the subsequent history of the Puritans. 

* Strype's "Annals," i. 33; Lingard, vii. 206, citing "Clarendon 
Papers." t Froude, vii. 41. 

I.— 28 


The first of these statutes is commonly called " The 
Act of Supremacy." By its provisions the sovereign was 
declared to be the supreme governor of the Church. 
She was authorized to nominate all bishops, to control 
the ecclesiastical state and persons by juridical visitation, 
to correct all manner of heresies, schisms, offences, con- 
tempts, and enormities in the Church ; and these powers 
of visitation and correction she was authorized to dele- 
gate to commissioners of her own selection. All per- 
sons in the State holding benefices or offices were re- 
quired to take the oath of supremacy, avowing " the 
queen to be the only supreme governor within the 
realm, as well in all spiritual or ecclesiastical causes and 
things as temporal." Any one affirming the authority, 
within the realm, of any foreign power, spiritual or ec- 
clesiastical, was, for the first offence, to forfeit all his 
goods ; for the second, to incur the penalties of a praem- 
unire ; and for the third, to be punished as a traitor.* 

The second act revived the Book of Common Prayer 
of the time of Edward Yl., with some alterations and 
additions. It provided that any minister who should 
refuse to use it, who should use any other rites and 
forms than those therein set down, or who should speak 
in its derogation, should, for the first offence, forfeit the 
profits of his benefice for a year, and be imprisoned for 
six months without bail ; for the second, lose his bene- 
fice and be imprisoned for a year ; and for the third, be 
imprisoned for life. Any persons not in order who 
should thus offend, or use public prayers in any other 
than the prescribed form, were for the first and second 
offence to be severely fined, and for the third to forfeit 
all their property and suffer imprisonment for life. Per- 

* 1 Eliz. cap. 1. 


sons absenting themselves from church on Sundays or 
holydays, without excuse, were to forfeit twelve pence 
for each offence. The ceremonies of the Church and the 
dress of the clergy were to be as in the time of Edward ; 
but the queen, with the advice of her commissioners or 
of the archbishop, and without the concurrence of Par- 
liament or even the body of the clergy, was authorized 
to ordain further rites and ceremonies without limit.* 

Such were the famous ecclesiastical acts by which, 
in the first year of Elizabeth's reign, the Established 
Church was reorganized. They were aimed at the 
Catholics, and passed the upper House only by small 
majorities and after bitter opposition. Under their 
provisions, all the bishops except one lost their places ; 
but of the clergy at large, numbering several thou- 
sands, less than two hundred refused to take the oath, 
and forfeited their livings.-j- Of the Puritans, whose 
name had not yet come into existence, little thought 
was taken. No one dreamed of what a scourge Parlia- 
ment was placing in the hands of a queen who seemed 
so modest and affable in her demeanor. How she used 
it against those who were, at first, most exultant, we 
shall shortly see. 

During the persecutions under Queen Mary, the most 
eminent of the Protestants, lay and clerical, had taken 
refuge in various cities of Germany and Switzerland.:}: 
In each country they found Protestantism in the ascend- 
ant, but under very different forms. The Lutherans 
of Germany had abjured the pope, but had practically 

* 1 Eliz. cap. 2. 

t Hallam, Froude, Camden, etc. Lingard says that the Catholic 
writers make the number much greater, but he does not give any 

J According to Neal, they were about eight hundred in number. 


transferred his authority to the temporal princes. The 
secular rulers gained by the change, for their subjects 
no longer recognized a divided allegiance. The tem- 
poral and spiritual power of the pope was gone, but it 
was succeeded by the divine right of kings.* Calvin- 
ism, on the other hand, was republican in its character. 
The minister selected by the people was above king or 
noble. He might be a despot himself, but he had been 
chosen by the congregation, and acknowledged no supe- 
rior except the King of Kings. The hereditary mon- 
archs of the world were not mistaken in regarding the 
Calvinists as their natural foes. 

In their forms of worship the difference between these 
two great sects was equally marked. Luther had re- 
tained much of the ceremonial of the Eomish Church. 
Crucifixes and images, tapers and priestly vestments, 
even for a time the elevation of the Host and the Latin 
mass-book, continued in the Lutheran churches.f On 
the other hand, the followers of Calvin had adopted the 
simplest form of worship. They attempted to put away 
everything which, in their eyes, seemed to stand between 
man and his Creator. Their ministers appealed not to the 
senses, but to the reason, and hence the sermon formed 
the chief feature of their service. The more liberal 
among them regarded the question of stated forms of 
prayers, and peculiar vestments for the clergy, as mat- 
ters of indifference ; but, in the main, they were by a 
natural reaction opposed to everything which savored 
of the papacy. In England, during the reign of Ed- 

* The Lutheran churches were governed by consistories appoint- 
ed by the princes or other civil powers. " American Presbyterian- 
ism," Briggs, p. 2. 

•t Hallam's " Const. Hist.," i. 176. 


ward yi., the tendency of the Eeformation, under an 
influence from Geneva, had been towards Calvinism. 
The preachers who fled to the Continent, under his sue- . 
cessor, had, therefore, a predisposition in that direction. 
The reception accorded them in tlieir various asylums 
made it more decided. In Germany, among the Lutlier- 
ans, they were neglected and frequently insulted, while 
by the Calvinists of Switzerland they were received with 
open arms.* 

Upon the accession of Elizabeth the exiles returned 
to England with high hopes for the future. They rep- 
resented the learning and the eloquence of the Church. 
They had suffered for their religion, and naturally ex- 
pected recognition ; but, what was of higher moment, 
they looked to see the Eeformation take great strides 
under the young queen, who had always been regarded 
as a Protestant at heart. The personal recognition came 
at once to many of them, for, though the exiles were 
Calvinists almost to a man, they generally received pre- 
ferment, since there were at the time no others to fill 
the higher places in the Church. The people, too, so 
far as they cared about such questions, seemed to be in 
accord with their opinions. So intense an antagonism 
had been aroused by the persecutions carried on in the 
reign of Mary that most of the earnest men of the king, 
dom inclined strongly in the opposite direction. In 
truth, but for one obstacle it is probable that the Refor- 
mation in England would have assumed a form that 
might have postponed for many years the appearance 
of the Puritans as a distinct party in the Church of 
State. That obstacle was the queen herself. 

* Hallam, i. 176. 



There are few historical personages who have received 
so much attention from writers, friendly and unfriendly, 
as Queen Elizabeth, and fewer stiU whose actions and 
character, until a recent da}'", have been so little under- 
stood. About this there is nothing remarkable, in view 
of her position as an unmarried queen, her place in the 
royal succession, the inaccessibility of many documents 
relating to the transactions of her reign, and the roman- 
tic conceptions generally prevailing as to the condition 
of English society when she was on the throne. These 
causes have led to numerous fictions regarding her con- 
duct in civil matters, but such fictions can hardly be 
compared with those which have been woven about her 
conduct in religious matters. Some writers have gone 
so far as to style her " The Defender of Euiopean Prot- 
estantism." Whether she deserves this or any oth- 
er title of honor connected with the Eeformation will 
appear from her actions towards her own Church, and 
that of the struggling Protestants upon the Continent. 

Elizabeth was what may be called a political Protes- 
tant, of the type common among the Lutheran princes 
of Germany. She was resolute not to admit the papal 
supremacy — so long, at least, as it meant peril to her 
throne — but not so averse to the doctrines abjured by 


the Protestants. For example, she believed in transub- 
stantiation, reproving a divine who preached against the 
real presence, and is said to have read prayers to the 
Virgin.* She w^ished to retain images and crucifixes in 
the churches, and, although this point was abandoned, 
she retained the crucifix and lighted tapers in her own 
chapel. The marriage of the clergy she always opposed. 
It was forbidden by a law enacted in the previous reign, 
to the repeal of which her consent could never be ob- 
tained. Hence, until after her death, nothing but an 
ilhcit connection existed, in the eyes of the law, be- 
tween the ministers of the Established Church and their 
so-called wives.f As to the ceremonial of the Church, 
she was inflexibly opposed to the simplicity advocated 
by a majority of the earnest reformers. In her own 
chapel, and in some of the cathedrals, the service was 
so splendid that foreigners could only distinguish it 
from that of the Church of Rome by the use of the 
English language instead of Latin.:}: 

It was upon the point of ceremonials that the first 
controversy arose within the Church. The queen in- 
sisted that all the clergy should retain the vestments 
worn by the former priests. They were also to use the 
sign of the cross in baptism, the ring in marriage, and 
to administer the communion to the congregation when 
kneeling.§ A large body of the new clergy objected to 
these forms, as relics of superstition, external symbols 
which tended to keep alive recollections of the old faith, 
preparing the way for its future restoration. To these 

* Strype's "Annals," ed. 1834, i. 3. 

t Hallam, i. 178. J Neal. 

§ The use of tlie ring in marriage was a pure ^Dagan rite borrowed 
from ancient Rome. 


men the question seemed one of vital importance. They 
found nothing in the Scriptures to warrant the enforce- 
ment of these ceremonies, and deemed their imposition 
by the civil power a violation of the right of conscience. 
Many others regarded them as matters of indifference, 
and, in order to have harmony within the Church, would 
have consented to give them up. Most of the leading 
divines took this view of the question, and, despite all 
the influence of the crown, a resolution favoring the 
abolition of the objectionable usages was lost in the con- 
vocation of the clergy, in 1562, by only a single vote.* 

But although the queen insisted on the old ceremoni- 
al, many of the Established clergy refused compliance. 
Some wore the habits, others laid them aside ; some wore 
a square cap, some a round cap, some a hat ; some used 
the sign of the cross in baptism, others did not; while 
communicants received the sacrament kneeling, sitting, 
or standing, as the minister saw fit. This went on for 
several 3"ears while the nation was settling down into 
its new conditions. 

During this period the word Puritan was coined. f 
It was not at first a term of reproach, as it came to be 
in later years, but was applied to men high in station 
who sought the purest form of worship, what they 
themselves called the " religio purissima." :{: They still 
remained within the Church ; they sought no separation. 
They only asked that in matters which their opponents 

* Hallam, i. 180. Strype's "Annals," i. 505. Jewel, one of the 
most eminent of the bishops at this time (1562), in his private corre- 
spondence, speaks of the Church ceremonies as " scenic apparatus," 
"fooleries," and "relics of the Amorites." Works, viii. 123, 134. 

t About 1564. Fuller's " Church History," ix. 66. 

I See letter from De Silva, the Spauisli ambassador, to Philip, 
July 2, 1568, quoted Froude, ix. 326. 


regarded as non-essential their consciences might remain 
free. Nothing but persecution, largely instigated by 
a Spanish influence, alienated them from the Church, 
drove some into separate establishments, and finally 
made them a political part}^ in the State. Well had 
it been for England if these extremities had been 

The persecution was begun by Parker, the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury. Parker himself had been a 
Puritan for two years after Elizabeth ascended the 
throne,t but he now professed new opinions, and ex- 
hibited that bitterness against his old associates which 
so often accompanies a change of parties. In 1565, he 
summoned before the Ecclesiastical Commission — a 
court established by the queen under the Act of Suprem- 
acy of 1559, and over which he presided — two of the 
eminent scholars of the time. The first, Samson, a 
Marian exile, who had refused a bishopric because of the 
obnoxious ceremonials, was dean of Christ Church ; the 
other, Humphrey, was president of Magdalen College, 
Oxford. :{; Both were pronounced non-conformists, but 
one example was deemed sufficient. Samson, still refus- 
ing to wear the ordained vestments, was sent to prison 
for a time and deprived of his deanery.§ This exam- 
ple, however, produced no effect, and Parker decided 
on a broader measure. All the clergymen of London 
were summoned before him and called upon for a prom- 
ise to comply with the legal ceremonial. Thirty-seven 
out of ninety-eight refused to give the promise, and were 

* Hallam. t Hallam, i. 177. 

I In 1563, Oxford contained only three Protestant preachers, and 
they -were all Puritans. Neal. 

§ Humphrey subsequently conformed. Strype's " Annals," ii. 451. 


in consequence suspended from the ministry and de- 
prived of their livings. These, unfortunately, according 
to Hallam, as was the case in all this reign, were the 
most conspicuous both for their general character and 
their talent in preaching.* 

Among the clergymen who about this time were cited 
before Parker was a man that deserves more than a 
passing notice, for he probably did more for the cause of 
Protestantism in England than any other single person. 
This was John Foxe, the martyrologist. 

A grave, learned, and laborious divine, he had gone 
into exile during the Marian persecution, and had passed 
his time abroad in writing a history of the martyrs of 
the Church, especially those who had suffered for religion 
during the reigns of Henry VIII. and his daughter 
Mary. His work was first published abroad in Latin, 
in the year 1559, for the benefit of foreigners. In 1563, 
he published an English translation with a dedication to 
Queen Elizabeth. Its value was at once appreciated, and 
an order was issued directing copies of the book to be 
placed in the churches for public perusal, in the same 
way that the English Bible had been placed there in the 
early days of the Eeformation. When we recollect that 
until the appearance of the " Pilgrim's Progress," in the 
next century, the common people had almost no reading 
matter except the Bible and Foxe's " Book of Martyrs," 
we can understand the deep impression that this book 
produced, and how much it served to mould the national 
character. Those who could read found there full details 
of all the atrocities committed on the Protestant Re- 
formers : the illiterate could see the rude illustrations of 
the various instruments of torture, the rack, the gridiron, 

* Hallam, i. 185. 


the boiling oil, and then the holy martyrs breathing out 
their souls amid the flames.* 

Take now a people just awakening to a new intellect- 
ual and religious life ; let several generations of them, 
from childhood to old age, pore over such a book as 
this, and its stories become traditions, as indelible and 
almost as potent as songs and customs on a nation's 
life. All the fiendish acts there narrated were the 
work of the Church of Eome, for no hint was given of 
any other side of the story. !No wonder that among the 
masses, aside from any religious sentiment or convic- 
tion, there grew up a horror and detestation of the pope 
and the Komish Church which have not entirely lost 
their force even after three centuries of Protestant dom- 
ination. The influence of this feeling on the English 
people can hardly be exaggerated. The country squires 
who came to the parliaments of Elizabeth, as a rule, 
probably cared little for religion ; but they were united 
in their hatred of the papal power, and this hatred, al- 
ways coupled with a dread, became more intense as time 
went on. After the dispersion of the Spanish Armada, 
much of the fear of a direct attack from abroad passed 
away, and there arose that exultant spirit of national in- 
dependence which Shakespeare puts into the words of 
an English king : 

" Thou canst not, cardinal, devise a name 
So slight, unworthy, and ridiculous, 
To charge me to an answer, as the pope. 
Tell him this tale, and from the mouth of England 
Add thus much more : that no Italian priest 
Shall titlie or toll in our dominions." 

Ki7ig John, act iii. sc. 1. 

* In 1582, an enlarged edition appeared. In 1610, it was illus- 
trated with copper cuts. Strype's " Annals," iii. 501. 


Yet the hatred and the underlying dread of the Cath- 
ohcs still remained. Throughout the next century the 
English squire might know nothing of politics or theol- 
ogy; but, whether he sided with or against the king, it 
was a part of his creed to hate tlie pope, and nothing 
but this antagonism led to the ultimate downfall of the 
Stuarts. Other causes combined to produce this result, 
but certainly not the least important was Foxe's " Book 
of Martyrs," which could be found in every Protestant 
mansion-house, occupying, next to the Bible, the place 
of honor. 

Such was the book, but its author was a Puritan. 
Ehzabeth professed an esteem for him, but did as little 
in his behalf as she did for Ascham, her Puritan tutor, 
to whom her reputation for learning owes so much.* 
Having conscientious scruples about wearing the vest- 
ments prescribed by law, Foxe vainly sought a position 
in the Church, until at length, reduced to very great 
poverty, he obtained a petty place in the Salisbury Ca- 
thedral. Cited before the Ecclesiastical Commission in 
1565, and asked to subscribe to the Prayer-book, he took 
a Greek Testament from his pocket and said he would 
subscribe to that. When they offered him the canons 
he refused, saying, " I have nothing in the Church but a 
prebend, and much good it may do you if you take it 
from me." It was not thought safe to deal harshly with 
a man to whom the whole Protestant world looked up, 
and he was permitted to go in peace, holding on to his 
little office until his death. f 

* Ascham lived on a small pension granted by Henry VIII. and 
renewed by Mary, and a lease of a fixrm granted by the latter. 
Elizabeth gave him nothing, and, but for this lease, his wife and 
children would have been left beggars at his death. Ascham's 
" Scholemaster," Mayor^s ed., 1863, pp. 203, 203. t Neal. 


Another of the lights of the Eeformation fared more 
harshly. This was Miles Coverdale, whose translation 
of the Bible into English, printed at Antwerp in 1535, 
was the first that was published in the Enghsh language. 
He was a learned man, a graduate of Cambridge, and 
a celebrated preacher. During the reign of Edward 
he was made Bishop of Exeter. Upon the accession 
of Mary, he was imprisoned", and narrowly escaped the 
flames, being saved only by the intercession of the King 
of Denmark, in whose country he took refuge. Keturn- 
ing to England, he assisted at the consecration of Ehza- 
beth's first Archbishop of Canterbury, but, being a Puri- 
tan and scrupling at the vestments, could for some time 
obtain no preferment. At last, in 1563, being now old 
and poor, the Bishop of London, who himself inclined 
towards Puritanism, took compassion on him and gave 
him a small church near London Bridge. Here he 
preached quietly for two years, but, not coming up to 
the required conformity, was obliged to relinquish his 
parish in the eighty-first year of his age. Thus, as Keal 
says, his gray hairs were brought down with sorrow to 
the grave.* 

The persecution of the Puritans up to this point, al- 
though opposed to the principles of a wise and liberal- 
minded policy, might be extenuated upon the legal 
ground that ministers within an established church 
should conform to its requirements. The next meas- 
ures, however, were of a different character, and for 
them there is no such palliation. 

When the Puritan clergymen of London were driven 
from their churches, in 1565, many of their followers 
went with them and established separate associations. 

* Neal, i. 108. 


They created no disorder, but quietly came together in 
private houses or public halls, sang their hymns, and 
listened to the Bible and the sermons of their ministers. 
Certainly here was no grave offence against the law in 
a Protestant community. It would seem, so long as 
these gatherings were orderly, and nothing was said or 
intended against the government, that well-meaning, 
conscientious citizens might claim a simple toleration 
of their particular form of worship, ]^ot so thought the 
queen or her archbishop. In 1567, a congregation thus 
worshipping in a London hall was arrested by the sher- 
iff, and its members, to the number of about one hun- 
dred, hauled up before the bishop. The only charge 
against them was that of worshipping God under forms 
not prescribed by law ; of this they were found guilty, 
and twenty-four men and seven women were sent to 
Bridewell for a year.* 

It is an interesting fact, and it illustrates what Hume 
says, in contrast with some modern writers, as to the al- 
most absolute power of the crown, that in these early 
coercive proceedings the queen and her archbishop had 
almost no sympathizers among the men prominent in 
Church and State. The Bishops of I^orwich and Dur- 
ham were openly on the side of the Puritans ; the Bishop 
of London and the Archbishop of York inclined towards 
them ; while in the council the Earls of Leicester, Bed- 
ford, Huntingdon, and I^orwich (the chief Protestant 
nobles), Bacon, the Lord Keeper, Walsingham, Sadler, 
and Knollys, were either their friends or thought that 
severity was being pressed too far.f Trouble evidently 
was brewing for England as well as for the cause of the 

* Neal. Hallam says tliat only fourteen or fifteen were sent to 
prison. t Hallam's " Const. Hist.," i. 186. 


Keformation at large. About this time, as we have al- 
ready seen, Alva began his butchery in the Netherlands ; 
Mary of Scotland became a prisoner, and the focus of 
conspiracy ; Elizabeth was excommunicated by the pope ; 
the Catholic college Avas founded at Douay ; and the 
Northern earls rose in rebellion. The sagacious council- 
lors of the queen thought this an ill-chosen crisis for 
driving to extremities the most faithful and devoted of 
her subjects. They urged that her true policy lay in 
an open, active support of the struggling Protestants 
abroad, and in a reformation of the Church at home, so 
as to make it a real and not a fictitious Protestant es- 

The fact that Elizabeth never would accept their ad- 
vice, even after Cecil joined them ; that she carried 
out a vacillating foreign policy, while at home she op- 
posed all innovations, trying to keep the Church as 
near as possible to the old model, the people ignorant, 
and the clergy subservient, forms an historical problem 
which has excited much discussion. The subject is an 
important one, for much that was unlovely in the later 
.Puritanism of England was due simply to the actions of 
the queen. Many writers, looking only at the final re- 
sult, give her credit for a sagacit}^ far surpassing that of 
all the able statesmen by whom she was surrounded. 
They argue that had she gone too fast or too far, she 
would have alienated the great mass of her Catholic 
subjects and brought peril to her throne ; that she kept 
her finger on the nation's pulse, and understood its beat- 
ings better than such men as Walsingham or Cecil ; that 
what the country needed was peace ; that her policy se- 
cured it, and that this proves her wisdom.* But this is 

* Of tliis school, Green is a prominent leader. 


arguing after the event. Such reasoning ignores the 
facts that time and again she was saved from ruin in 
her own despite ; that nothing but a succession of what 
some of her advisers called miracles, and others caUed 
happy accidents, kept her on the throne ; and that all her 
dangers came from the men whom she favored, while her 
safety lay in those whom she persecuted and discour- 
aged. The problem of determining what motives actu- 
ated her conduct seems capable of a simpler solution 
than that of endowing her with superhuman prescience. 

Elizabeth, as is well known, was without any religious 
convictions ; but such sentiment or underlying supersti- 
tious instincts as she had inclined her to the Church of 
Rome. Her love of its gorgeous ceremonial shows the 
sentiment ; her belief in the real presence, her adoration 
of the crucifix, and prayers to the Virgin when in peril 
show the innate superstition. These facts alone would 
not be sufficient to explain her policy, but they throw 
some light upon it. Add now another factor, and the 
question becomes much clearer. 

Throughout the early years of her reign, the Hugue- 
nots in France and the Reformers in the ISiCtherlands 
were struggling for their existence. They alone, the 
Protestants of Germany being listless, stood as a bul- 
wark against the returning wave of Continental Cathol- 
icism. Incapable herself of comprehending their high 
religious motives, disliking them as rebels, and having 
no sympathy with their belief, Elizabeth always under- 
rated their power and looked forward to their ultimate 
defeat. Entertaining this conviction, herself inclined to 
Catholicism, most of her personal favorites being adher- 
ents of the old faith,* and the great majority of the na- 

* Froude, xi. 18. 


tion having no convictions, what would be more natural 
than that she should always have had in view her own 
future reconciliation with the Church of Eome? The 
final collapse of the Spanish attempts on England in 
1588, followed by an exultant outburst of national feel- 
ing which showed the weakness of Catholicism, together 
with the almost synchronous success of the Protestants 
in Holland and of Henry of Navarre in France, changed 
the current of European history ; but if we seek for the 
motives which, in the main, controlled Elizabeth until 
that time, looking for an explanation of her foreign poli- 
cy, and her treatment of the Catholics and Puritans at 
home, we have here what seems a very simple clue. 
Upon many subjects she showed more than a feminine 
vacillation, and her attachment to devious courses was 
something phenomenal ; but to one object she was con- 
stant : nothing should be done, while she could prevent 
it, to place England beyond the pale, so that if it were 
to her personal advantage the restoration of the old re- 
ligion would be impossible. 

This theory of Elizabeth's religious policy has much 
direct evidence in its support, apart from that of her 
public actions which it alone explains. The latter, of 
course, were matters of common knowledge ; but many 
facts relating to her private opinions and negotiations 
were unknown even to her council, and of many others 
the writers of her time were ignorant. Hence they, and 
the historians who have followed in their track, often 
thought her vacillating when she was really constant 
to one purpose. Froude first spread before the public 
many of the letters written by the Spanish ambassadors 
at London to Philip of Spain, which give to his history of 
this period so great a value. These Spaniards were, at 
times, her confidants, and their accounts of her private 
I.— 29 


declarations show the general * consistency of her con- 
duct. Philip himself, with all his means of informa- 
tion, always believed that she would be reconciled with 
Kome. Even after the pope's bull, he refused to recog- 
nize her excommunication.* 

The first Parliament which met after her accession 
enacted laws very hostile to the Catholics ; but she was 
then in a peculiar position, the pope having refused to 
recognize her title to the throne. The next year she told 
the Spanish ambassador that she was as good a Catholic 
as he was, and that she had been compelled to act as she 
had done.f Froude, on the authority of Cecil and Kil- 
ligrew, thinks that she was then wavering.;}: In 1561, 
when she was desirous of marrying Dudley, made Earl 
of Leicester in 1564, the Spanish ambassador was in- 
formed by Sir Henry Sidney that if the marriage could 
be brought about through the influence of Philip, the 
Catholic religion should be restored. Undoubtedly, Sid- 
ney spoke with the authority of the queen. The scheme 
fell through because the Catholic nobles would not con- 
sent to a marriage with a man whom they regarded as 
an In 1564, Elizabeth repeated to the Spanish 
ambassador, De Silva, what she had said about religion 
to his predecessor.§ In 1566, the pope offered to recog- 
nize the legitimacy of Elizabeth, by reversing the former 
decree relating to the divorce of her father, if she would 
re-establish the Pomish Church. Thus one great obsta- 
cle would have been removed. At this time Parliament 

* Froude, vii. 13, xi. 26. f Idem, vii. 251. J Idem, p. 253. 

II Froude, vii. 316. It was the continued opposition of the Catholic 
nobles to his union -with the queen that ultimately led Dudley to be- 
come a prominent friend of the Puritans. Froude, ix. 181. 

§ Idem, viii. 105, 


was anxious to make further reforms in the Church. 
Under the advice of De Silva, Elizabeth interfered, and 
all action was prevented.* In 1573, and again in 1578, 
she told the Spanish ambassador that she held the Cath- 
olic creed herself, and that her differences with her Cath- 
olic subjects were merely political.f In 1576, she threat- 
ened to make war on the Prince of Orange, and this 
meant ultimate reconciliation with Rome.:}: These il- 
lustrations might be largely multiplied. It may be said 
that they are only evidence of her duplicity ; but they 
show what she had in mind, and illuminate her public 
acts, which, read in their light, make all her religious 
policy consistent. 

Although during the early years of Elizabeth's reign, 
before the appearance of the Jesuits, a persecution of 
the Catholics was carried on, this persecution, it must 
be remembered, was mild in its character, and due to 
peculiar circumstances. The Parliaments w^ere largely 
Puritan in inclination, and passed laws to which, at first, 
perhaps she did not venture to refuse assent — and possi- 
bly they were her own suggestions — as, the pope having 
denied her title to the crown, she would have been left 
without any party in the State unless she had allied her- 
self with the Reformers. Later on, when more firmly 
seated on the throne, she forbade Parliament to interfere 
in matters of rehgion, and barred its interference by fre- 
quent dissolutions. It must also be remembered that all 
the opprobrium of enforcing measures of severity against 
the Catholics she put upon the members of her council, 
who believed that the Protestantism of the kingdom 
should be more pronounced. These men accepted the 
responsibility, for, had the old religion been re-estab- 

* Froude, viii. 339. f Idem, xi. 34, 127. | Idem, xi. 63. 


lished, they, as well-known Protestants, would have been 
the first victims of the reaction. They were thus consult- 
ing their own safety as well as what they considered the 
public welfare.* 

But Elizabeth could always say with plausibility that 
she had been forced to play the role of a persecutor, and 
that her heart was never in the work. Whenever it was 
consistent with her own safety, she showed indulgence to 
the Catholics. Thousands of the old priests were allowed 
to remain in their livings by an outward conformity to 
the ritual of the Established Church. It was only the 
practice of their own form of worship which was pun- 
ishable by law, and she saw to it that the laws were, as 
to them, never pressed beyond the letter. f But with the 
Puritans it was very different. They claimed, and with 
apparent justice, that the laws were always strained for 
their oppression, not by the civil powers, but by the 
queen and her Ecclesiastical Commission. As head of the 
Church, Elizabeth had authority to change the ceremo- 
nial, within certain limits ; but she never used her power 
to relieve their tender consciences, nor would she con- 
sent that they should have relief from Parliament, 

Nor was this all. The sagacious statesmen who sur- 
rounded Elizabeth believed that the Reformation in 
England should be pressed to its legitimate conclusion. 
Merely abjuring the supremacy of the pope, and chang- 
ing the form of religion by statutory enactment, Avere, 
to their minds, insufficient. The old abuses of the Church 

* When Philip organized the Armada, he made out a list of the 
English statesmen to be hanged after the victory. Troude, xii. 148. 

t Although the saying of mass in private houses was forbidden 
by law, it was winked at for twenty years after Elizabeth's accession. 
Froude, xi. 360. 


should be done away with, the all-prevailing corruption 
should be rooted out, and, to accomplish these ends, men 
of high character and of unblemished life should be se- 
lected to control the new establishment, l^o such coun- 
sels met the approval of the queen. She wished subservi- 
ent tools ; and if her bishops were men whose private 
or official conduct could not bear examination, they 
would be the more readily controlled, and the more easily 
turned over to Rome. A few illustrations will show 
their character. 

Parker, her favorite Archbishop of Canterbury, left 
an enormous fortune, which he had accumulated during 
eighteen years of office by the most wholesale corrup- 
tion. Among other things, he established a fixed tariff 
for the sale of benefices in his gift, regulated according 
to their value and the age of the applicant. The sales 
were not confined to adults, for even boys under four- 
teen were allowed to become purchasers, provided they 
would pay an increased price.* At about the time of 
Parker's death, in 1576, Hatton, the new favorite of the 
queen, cast longing eyes upon some property belonging to 
the Bishop of Ely. That prelate refused to give it up, 
even after receiving the famous letter in which Eliza- 
beth, with an oath, threatened to unfrock him. He was 
brought to terms, however, by a summons before the 
Privy Council, and a notification from Lord I^orth of 
what would be proved against him. He was to be 
charged, so the queen directed, with the grossest mal- 
versation in office, plundering the Church lands, selling 
the lead and brick from its houses, dealing dishonestly 
in leases, and exacting illegal charges from the ministers 
in his diocese. This threat was sufficient ; the bishop suc- 

* Froude, xi. 100. 


cumbed, and we hear no more of his prosecution or re- 

Nor were these cases at all exceptional. As we study 
the records of the time, one of their most striking feat- 
ures is the wide -spread corruption among the bishops 
of the Established Church. Liable to removal or sus- 
pension at the pleasure of the crown, they took care to 
provide for themselves and their families by selling the 
church timber, making long leases of the ecclesiastical 
lands, and in every possible manner despoiling their 
sees of the little property left to them by the early Ee- 

* Froude, xi. 22. 

t The following are a few illustrations taken from Strype's " An- 
nals," the writings of a High-churchman, which bear out the gen- 
eral statements of Hallam, Froude, and others, to some of which I 
have referred in a former chapter. In 1585, Bishop Scambler was 
transferred from Peterborough to Norwich. He found that his pre- 
decessor had not only disposed of the judicial offices of the see by a 
patent, but had just before his dejiarture made many unprecedented 
leases of the episcopal property. But Scambler's successor in Peter- 
borough found that the same thing had been done in that diocese, 
the see having been impoverished by spoliations. The same year wit- 
nessed the death of the Bishop of Chichester. He died a bankrupt, 
having sold off the church timber until there was hardly sufficient 
left for firewood. These cases occurred in one year, and are men- 
tioned in one page of Strype's " Annals," iii. 331. See also p. 467 for 
an account of the mode in which the "Welsh bishoprics were "fleeced 
by the respective bishops;" also p. 463, as to the see of Durham. 
The bishop of the latter diocese not only despoiled the church 
property, but was controlled by a brother, his chancellor, " a bad 
man addicted to covetousness and uncleanness. He was to be bribed 
by money to pass over crimes presented and complained of." Ayl- 
mer. Bishop of London, cut down and sold his timber until pre- 
vented by an injunction. " When he grew old, and reflected that 
a large sum of money would be due from his family for dilapida- 


In 1585, when six bislioprics were vacant, a corre- 
spondence passed between Lord Burghley and Whitgift, 
Archbishop of Canterbury, which shows the general 
character of the men whom Elizabeth selected for 
ecclesiastical preferment. Says the Lord Treasurer: 
" There are to be new bishops placed in the six vacant 
chairs. I wish — but I cannot hope it — that the Church 
may take that good thereby that it hath need of. Your 
Grace must pardon me ; for I see such worldliness in 
many that were otherwise affected before they came 
to cathedral churches, that I fear the places alter the 
men," To which Whitgift replied: " It is not the chair 
that maketh the alteration, if any there be, but the un- 
lawful means of coining by it. ... I doubt not but as good 
men, even at this day, possess some of these chairs as 
ever did in any age ; although I will not justify all, nor 
yet many of them,"* Bishops who had bought their 
seats, as is here plainly intimated, could hardly be ex- 
pected to refrain from repaying themselves by plunder- 
ing their sees. Had Elizabeth been actuated by a de- 
sire to bring the Established Church into contempt, so 
that its downfall would be mourned by no one, she 
certainly could have chosen no better mode of accom- 
plishing her purpose than that of selecting such men to 
represent its principles,! 

tions of the palace at Fulham, etc., he actually proposed to sell his 
bishopric to Bancroft (Strype's ' Aylmer,' p. 169). The latter, how- 
evei', waited for his death, and had over £4000 awarded to him ; but 
the crafty old man having laid out his money in land, this sum was 
never paid." — Hallam, i. 206. At this time land in England could 
not be taken for debt. 

* Strype's " Whitgift," pp. 171, 172. No one who knows anything of 
Whitgift's character would ever suspect him of libelling the Church. 

t During the session of Parliament, in 1581, when the nation was 


But, after all, the bishops were simply following the 
lessons taught them by the queen. She was the great 
despoiler of the Church. All through her reign, we 
find her not only demanding from the bishops the sur- 
render of portions of the property of their sees for the 
benefit of some needy favorite — and she thus robbed 
even the universities themselves"" — but she issued nu- 
merous commissions, under which keen and unscrupu- 
lous adventurers sought out flaws in ecclesiastical titles, 
recovering the property for the crown and receiving as 
their compensation a portion of the spoils, f Besides 
this, although the regular revenues of the sees were very 
small, averaging only about a thousand pounds per an- 
num, they were so diminished by the exactions of the 
queen and her courtiers, that in many cases the incum- 
bents, without dishonesty, would have found it impos- 
sible to live. One illustration of the extent of these 
exactions will suffice to show their character. In 1583, 
the Bishop of Winchester, who held one of the richest 
sees in the kingdom, was complained of for spending 
so little money as to bring his office into disrepute. In 
answer to the charge he sent Lord Burghley a state- 
ment showing his income and expenditures. His net 
income was about £2800. Of this he paid to the queen, 
in first-fruits, tenths, subsidies, and benevolences, about 
£1900 ; to Leicester, £100 ; in annuities granted by his 
predecessors, " wherein Sir Francis Walsingham's fee 
is contained," £218 ; leaving for himself, after paying 

alarmed by the Catholic revival which the Jesuits had awakened, 
one member gave voice to the public opinion in saying : " Were 
there any honesty in these prelates, in whom honesty should most be 
found, we should not be in our present trouble." — Froude, xi. 360. 
* Strype, iii. 54. f Idem, jMssim. 


salaries and alms to the poor, just one seventh of the 
net income.* This system was almost as profitable to 
the queen as the one under which she kept a diocese 
vacant for years, receiving all the income.f 

But there was something more than corruption in 
the Church. The mass of the clergy were so illiterate 
that, even had they been pure of life, they could have 
done little to elevate the people or win respect for the 
new establishment. This evil, too, was felt in its full 
force by the statesmen who tried in vain to influence 
the queen. They realized the fact that Protestantism 

* Strype, iii. Appendix, p. 58. 

t She thus kept the diocese of Ely vacant for eighteen years after 
the death of Cox. Hall, p. 117. Strype, in tliis connection, gives a 
curious letter written to the queen by Sir John Puckering, the Lord 
Keeper — that is, the acting Chancellor — which shows liow bishoprics 
and their property were disposed of. Sir John desired a lease of 
some land belonging to the vacant bishopric of Ely, and proposed, 
about 1595, that the office should be filled in order to carry out his 
wishes. The lease, he said, would benefit him, without expense to 
her majesty, since the property did not belong to the crown. As 
to filling the see, altliough she would thereby lose the income, this 
would be made up from first-fruits, tenths, and subsidies ; which, 
if an old man were selected for the place, would soon be payable 
again. In addition, by changing around some of the other old 
bishops, she could make a profit of several thousand pounds. 
Strype, iv. 247. Under a statute passed in the first year of her 
reign, to which reference has been made before (see p. 433), every 
bishop and every clergyman paid the queen at once, or in two 
or three annual payments, a sum equal to a year's income on 
his first appointment to a charge. These payments, called first- 
fruits, became due again on every change of diocese or parish, and 
to them was added a tenth of the annual income thereafter. The 
system had, therefore, a money value to the crown, which was per- 
haps no small recommendation in the eyes of a frugal monarch like 


must ultimately rest on general intelligence, and that 
the so-called reformation of the Church would prove an 
illusive snare, unless the people were taught to under- 
stand its meaning. But to do this teachers were needed 
very different from those who occupied the English pul- 
pits. It was this conviction that led men like Burghley 
and Bacon, perhaps having little religion themselves, to 
advocate the cause of the Puritans. 

The English Puritans, like their brethren in Holland 
and Scotland, believed in education, and it is their crown- 
ing glory. They might be narrow-minded and intoler- 
ant; had they been otherwise, they would have been false 
to their age and race. But wherever we find them, either 
•in England or America, we find in their possession the 
school-book and the Bible. They wished, and they final- 
ly insisted, that others should believe as they did, for they 
could not conceive that any other belief was possible. 
They did not, however, desire a blind acceptance ; they 
demanded a conscientious conviction of the truth, found- 
ed on a knowledge of their doctrines. Education, there- 
fore, was their watchword. If you would get rid of 
the tares and have a crop, you must plough up the 
ground and sow your seed. The religious crop which 
the present generation is reaping would surprise these 
men of three centuries ago ; but even the most radical 
thinker of to-day must give them credit for insisting on 
the cultivation of the soil. 

But it was not the Puritans alone who, in the time 
of EHzabeth, desired religious instruction for the people. 
All the churchmen who were earnest in their belief 
felt the same desire. They argued that the true mode 
of extirpating popery, then the vital question for the 
nation, was by showing up its errors. They therefore 
advocated the general preaching and discussion of the 


doctrines of the Eeformation.* The queen, however, 
would have no such preaching or discussion. If we can 
judge from her actions, she wished for no new crop, but 
desired that the old tares should go to seed. She en- 
couraged the study of the classics, she gave some little 
countenance to poetry ; but of the education of the 
masses, or of the discussion of religious questions, she 
entirely disapproved. 

"Was this sagacity on her part, such as some historians 
have attributed to her, surpassing that of the ablest 
statesmen and most earnest churchmen of her times ? 
Was it from any love of the Reformation that she de- 
sired to keep the people ignorant of rehgious truths ? It 
has been said that she did not wish to stir up a religious 
turmoil, that she feared its effects upon her Catholic 
subjects, and that she desired to give the people time to 
forget the old faith and accustom themselves to the new 
belief. Does this explain her conduct ? There might 
be something in such a theory had she filled the minis- 
try with men of even reputable lives. But nothing is 
left of it when Ave recall the character of the clergy 
during the first half of her reign. Bakers, butchers, 
cooks, and stablemen, wholly illiterate, drunken and 
licentious,t seem hardly fitting instruments for advanc- 
ing such a broad-minded religious policy. In fact, they 
alienated the few earnest old Catholics, instead of rec- 
onciling them to the new establishment. 

One thing is very clear. Elizabeth understood fuU 
well the effects of educating a people in the doctrines of 
the Reformation. In 1578, Philip of Spain offered to 
his rebellious subjects in the ^Netherlands the fuU resto- 
ration of their civil rights provided they would return to 

* Hallam, i. 200. + Idem, i. 203. Nathan Drake, p. 44. 


the Church of Rome. The English queen used all her 
influence to have these overtures accepted. She prom- 
ised, cajoled, and threatened, but all in vain. The relig- 
ious question, which she pronounced of no importance, 
proved an insuperable obstacle. Walsingham, one of 
her wisest advisers, writing at this time to Burghley, said 
in regard to the Protestants of the Low Countries : " That 
which her majesty seems most to mislike of, which is 
the progress of religion being well considered, is the 
thing which shall breed their greatest strength." * But 
for their intense Protestantism, it would have been easy 
enough to turn the Hollanders back to peace and Moth- 
er Church. The queen disliked it, for the very reason 
which recommended it to Walsingham, that it stood in 
the way of reconciliation with the pope. "When, in op- 
position to the counsels of all the men about her, whose 
patriotism and wisdom are undisputed, she persistent- 
ly sought to suppress the growth of a corresponding 
spirit in England, is it not reasonable to suppose that 
we have here the leading motive which controlled her 
policy ? 

Although Elizabeth found little sympathy from her 
council in the persecutions which she and her archbishop 
were carrying on against the Puritans, she had always 
one person to spur her on. This was the Spanish am- 
bassador, with whom her relations for many years were 
of the most intimate character. He had no fear of the 
emasculated Protestantism which he saw represented in 
the Established Church ; what he dreaded, for the cause 
of Rome and Spain, was the aggressive spirit of the 

Writing to Philip in 1568, he said : " Those who call 

* Froude, xi. 127. 


themselves of the religio pu7'issima go on increasing. 
They are the same as Calvinists, and they are styled 
Puritans because they allow no ceremonies nor any 
forms save those which are authorized by the bare letter 
of the Gospel. They will not come to the churches 
which are used by the rest, nor will they aUow their 
minister to wear any marked or separate dress. Some 
of them have been taken up, but they have no fear of 
prison, and offer themselves to arrest of their own ac- 
cord." The Protestants of England, he went on to say, 
were of many opinions, being unable to agree on any 
point. There was their folly, if they only saw it. He 
suspected that a party in the council would like to bring 
the queen over to their mind, so that all the Protestants 
in the kingdom might be united. If agreed, it would 
give them strength both at home and abroad. This he 
regarded as "a serious misfortune," and he therefore had 
warned the queen against these "libertines," pointing 
out the danger from them to herself and princes gener- 
ally. " Libertines I called them, for revolt against au- 
thority in all forms is their true principle." She had 
been advised, he said, to give up the Confession of Augs- 
burg — Lutheranism — and take to this other form, but he 
urged her not to be misled.* 

This advice Avas very sound from a Spanish stand- 
point ; but, although the queen accepted and acted on it, 
one may well doubt whether the national enemy was 
the wisest counsellor for England. 

Fortunate it was for Elizabeth that these " libertines," 
as the Spaniard called them, were cast in an heroic mould. 
They might be harried from their homes and reduced to 
poverty ; they might be consigned to prison, to the rack, 

* De Silva to Philip, July 3cl, 1568, Froude, ix. 337. 


or to the gallows ; but, whatever their individual wrongs, 
nothing could ever impel them to give aid to their coun- 
try's foe, nor, while the Reformed religion was in danger, 
drive them into rebellion against the Protestant monarch 
of a Protestant State. 

The year 1570 marks the close of the first distinct pe- 
riod in the history of English Puritanism. Elizabeth 
had now been eleven years upon the throne. During 
all that time the earnest men who desired a simpler form 
of worship had sought it within the Established Church. 
They had not questioned the supremacy of the queen, 
nor the authority of the bishops in rehgious matters ; all 
that they asked for was liberty, in their parishes, to dis- 
pense with the wearing of vestments and the practice 
of ceremonies which they considered sinful. This had 
been denied them. They next sought to worship in a 
mode which they considered Scriptural, peaceably in sep- 
arate congregations, and these had been broken up by 
force, the worshippers being visited by the punishment 
reserved for felons. It would have been strange, indeed, 
if at length some bold minds had not begun to question 
the system which, calling itself Protestant, bore such 

Others there probably were before his time, but the 
man whose figure stands out most boldly on the historic 
page, as marking this new departure, was Thomas Cart- 
wright, Margaret Professor of Divinity at Cambridge. 
He had entered that university in 1550 ; during the 
Marian persecution he left it to study law in London, 
and returning on the accession of Elizabeth, had been 
made a fellow. Sickened for a time with English the- 
ology, he went over to Geneva in 1564, and drank in the 
air of pure Calvinism. Returning to Cambridge, which 
inclined to Puritanism, he had been made professor of 


divinity. He was now, although but thirty-five years 
of age, a profound scholar, and, what was more, a man 
of genius ; narrow-minded in some directions, but with 
the ability, within his limitations, to see straight and think 
clear, and with the courage to express his convictions. 

To his mind, the time had come to throw off shams, 
and denounce the intrinsic falsity as well as the inci- 
dental corruption of the religious machinery which he 
saw around him. The farce should be done away with 
of selecting bishops through the inspiration of the Holy 
Spirit, but always at the dictation of the queen.* The 
title bishop might be retained, Cartwright thought, 
but he should be reduced to his apostolic function of 
preaching the Gospel, while the deacon took care of 
the poor ; both, however, to be selected by the Church, 
and not by the civil authorities. Ministers or bishops 

* The system which Cartwright denounced and ridiculed three 
centuries ago still prevails in England. "When a bishop is to be 
chosen, the deans and prebends of the cathedral meet to fill the 
vacancy, under an authorization from the queen, which, however, 
names the person to be selected. They enter upon their work with 
grave religious ceremonies, solemnly beseeching the Holy Ghost to 
aid them in their choice. Prayers being concluded, it is invariably 
found that under a spiritual guidance they have selected the person 
named in their conge d''eUre. Emerson's "English Traits," chap. 
"Religion." One can understand the theory of the papacy, where 
the pope, as successor of St. Peter, claims a divine authority to name 
bishops ; but the practice of the English Church would be ludicrous 
but for its element of blasphemy. Under the papal system the Al- 
mighty is supposed to make selections through his representative 
the pope ; under the English system, the queen makes the selection 
through the Almighty, who is, in theory, her agent and subordinate. 
Among a jjeople possessing strong religious convictions, or even en- 
dowed with a keen sense of humor, such a mummery would be im- 
possible. See also Froude, xii. 578. 


should not be licensed to preach anywhere, but each 
should have charge of a particular congregation. Fi- 
nally, every church should be governed by its own min- 
ister and presbyters, but subject to the opinions of the 
other churches with which it communicated.* 

Here were some of the doctrines of the Presbyterian 
Church, an organization much at variance with the Eng- 
lish establishment. Still, Cartwright at first taught tliem 
with caution and moderation, lecturing only to his class- 
es in divinity, and counselling no open schism. When 
complained of to the court, Cecil wrote back that he 
saw nothing improper in his conduct, the professor 
appearing simply to have been giving to his pupils the 
results of his own studies of the 'New Testament.f 

But Cartwright's offence went far beyond an attack 
upon the theoretical organization of the Church. He 
openly assailed its glaring abuses, and that w^as unpar- 
donable. Pluralities and non-residences he denounced 
as impious, and the Spiritual Courts " as damnable, dev- 
ilish, and detestable." " Poor men," he said, " did toil 
and travel, and princes and doctors licked up all." He 
maintained that "those who held offices should do the 
duties of those offices ; that high places in the common- 
w^ealth belonged to merit, and that those who without 
merit were introduced into authority were thieves and 
robbers." The heads of the Houses at Cambridge could 
not stand his lectures, and he was suspended from his 
professorship. Still, the pulpit was open to him, and 
there his influence became greater than before. The 
students flocked to hear his sermons, and w^ere carried 
away by his eloquence. One day he preached against 

* Briggs's " American Presbyterianism," p. 41, and Appendix, j). 1. 
t Froude, x. 116. 


the vestments, the next day all but three of the Trinity 
students appeared without the surplice. This was too 
much. He was now, being deprived of his fellowship, 
expelled from the university, and in 1574 fled to the 
Continent, to escape imprisonment, remaining there 
until 1585. 

In later years, when mellowed by time and affected 
by a long residence in the Netherlands, Cartwright put 
off much of his early acerbity of speech. But it is prob- 
ably true that at this period he developed an intolerance 
equal to that which he encountered. He resented what 
he thought was persecution, and waged with his per- 
secutors a war of pamphlets, in ^vhich the language, 
according to the custom of the time, was far from apos- 
tolic. Heresy he would have punished with death, for 
the Bible, as he read it, so commanded. Had his sj^s- 
tem been carried out to its logical conclusions, the coun- 
try would have groaned under an ecclesiastical instead 
of a civil tyranny, for he claimed that the Church should 
rule the State. But his defects were those of his age 
and race ; his earnestness, his purity of life, hatred of 
wrong-doing, contempt of wealth, and courage of con- 
viction were all his own, and those of the stern men of 
thought and action who were in time to give a new life 
to England. 

The teachings of the eloquent Cambridge professor 
mark an epoch in the history of English Puritanism ; but 
they were not generally accepted, and, in fact, bore fruit 
quite slowly."" The Reformers still clung to the Estab- 
lished Church, and tried to do their work under its shad- 
ows.f Expelled from their livings for nonconformity, 

* Green lays too much stress upon them in excusing the acts of 

t Cartwright himself was always opposed to any separation from 
I.— 30 


they obtained employment as preachers from the reg- 
ular incumbents, too lazy or too ignorant to preach 
themselves, or they took refuge in the families of the 
country squires, where, as teachers, they exercised a pow- 
erful and lasting influence. The upper classes among 
the laity who cared anything about religion were, in 
the main, divided between the adherents of the old faith 
and those who, siding, with the Puritans, wished the 
Reformation to be carried further.* Catholics being 
forbidden by law to sit in the House of Commons, the 
Puritans had a majority in that body during the whole 
reign of Elizabeth, and but for the overwhelming influ- 
ence of the crown would have introduced great reforms 
in the Established Church. 

In 1571, they presented an address to the queen, point- 
ing out some of the glaring abuses which ought to be 
corrected. They said : " Great numbers are admitted 
ministers that are infamous in their lives, and among 
those that are of ability their gifts in many places are 
useless by reason of pluralities and non-residency, where- 
by infinite numbers of your majesty's subjects are lilie 
to perish for lack of knowledge. By means of this, to- 
gether with the common blasphemy of the Lord's name, 
the most wicked licentiousness of life, the abuse of ex- 
communication, the commutation of penance, the great 
number of atheists, schismatics daily springing up, and 
the increase of papists, the Protestant religion is in im- 
minent peril." f But Elizabeth was unmoved. She did 
not believe in freedom of speech upon any subject. She 
lectured her Parliaments for discussing religious ques- 

tlie establishment. He believed in controlling, and not leaving it 
as the Brownists did. Briggs, p. 43. 

* Hallam, i. 193. t Neal. 


tions, which she, as head of the Church, should alone 
decide, and usually managed to stifle debate in the Lower 
House, by imprisoning the recalcitrant members, or to 
throttle legislation through the lords and bishops. 

"We have seen in the preceding pages something of 
the ignorance which prevailed among the regular clergy. 
It is creditable to several of the bishops of the Church 
that, about 1571, a movement was started to correct 
this evil. This was a religious exercise called "proph- 
esying." The clergy of a diocese were divided into 
classes or associations, under a moderator appointed by 
the bishop, and met once a fortnight to discuss particu- 
lar texts of Scripture. A sermon was first preached, to 
which the public were admitted, and after their disper- 
sion the members of the association debated the subject, 
the moderator finally summing up their arguments and 
pronouncing his determination. Such an exercise, at a 
time when books were few and costly and learning was 
at a very low ebb, might have been productive of much 
good. It began in JSTorwich, next to London the fore- 
most stronghold of Puritanism, and rapidly extended 
through the kingdom. But Parker, the archbishop, told 
the queen that these associations, where the chief top- 
ics discussed were the errors of papacy and the doc- 
trines of the Reformation, were no better than semina- 
ries of Puritanism. He argued that the more opposed 
the people were to the papacy the more they would 
incline to the non-conformists, and that these exercises 
tended to make them so inquisitive that they would not 
submit to the orders of their superiors as they should.* 
These arguments met the cordial approval of the queen, 
who gave stringent orders that the prophesying should 

* Neal ; Hallara, i. 200. 


be suppressed. It took several years to put it down 
completely, for some of the bishops made a stout resist- 
ance ; but the queen triumphed in the end, her clergy 
being left as ignorant as she could well desire.* 

Meantime, the work of weeding out the Puritans went 
on more vigorously than ever. Their books were sup- 
pressed, their preachers silenced, their private meetings 
broken up, and even plain citizens for listening to their 
sermons were dragged before the High Commission upon 
any refusal to conform.f These were the severities prac- 
tised upon those who, agreeing with the Church authori- 
ties in matters of doctrine, differed from them only upon 
questions of form. For out-and-out heretics, those who 
denied the doctrines of the Church, a different fate was 

"We have seen how William of Orange protected the 
Anabaptists of Holland when some of the men about 
him would have refused them civil rights. About 15Y5, 
twenty-seven of this sect, refugees from the Continent, 

* Hallam, i. 201, 203; Neal. Even Strype, who attempts to jus- 
tify everything done by Elizabeth, admits the benefits derived from 
prophesying. He says : " This -^'as practised, to the great benefit 
and improvement of the clergy, many of whom in those times were 
ignorant, both in Scripture and divinity." — Strype's " Annals of the 
Keformation," ii. 313. The only excuse which the queen ofiered for 
suppressing this educational system was that it had been abused in 
the diocese of Norwich, by the discussion of ceremonial questions. 
But the Bishop of Norwich showed that this charge was unfounded. 
Idem. It is a fact not Avithout interest that Cornwall, the county in 
which, according to Neal, not a minister could preach a sermon, 
furnished to Parliament the two brothers Paul and Peter Went- 
worth, who throughout the reign of Elizabeth stood up, almost alone, 
for freedom of speech in religious matters. They appreciated fully 
the results of the royal policy, 
t HaUam, i. 197. 


were apprehended in a private house in London, where 
they had assembled for worship. Tried before the Bish- 
ops' Court for heresy, in holding blasphemous opinions as 
to the nature of Christ's body — believing that he brought 
it with him from heaven — four recanted, but eleven of 
the number w^ere convicted and sentenced to be burned. 
One of these, a w^oman, gave way and was pardoned, 
and nine of the others had their sentences commuted to 
perpetual banishment. The eleventh, with one of the 
first four who had relapsed, was reserved for the stake. 
Great efforts were made to save their lives, every one 
admitting their inoffensiveness. The Dutch congrega- 
tion interceded for them, and Foxe, the martyrologist, 
petitioned the queen in their behalf. But Elizabeth had 
for the time made friends with Spain, and was bent on 
showing that she had no sympathy with heresy. An ex- 
ample was needed to show her sincerity, and she proved 
inexorable. On the 22d of July, 1575, the two unhappy 
foreigners, who had sought England as an asylum from 
persecution, and whose only imputed crime was an error 
of theological belief, were publicly burned alive, min- 
gling their ashes with those of the many other martyrs 
who have made the soil of Smithfield sacred ground."'^ 

In the year which witnessed this tragedy, Parker, the 
persecuting Archbishop of Canterbury, died, and was 
succeeded by Grindal, a man of a very different type. 
He was not unfriendly to the Puritans, and was an ear- 
nest believer in the education of the clergy, and in sup- 
plying the pulpits with men capable of preaching. But 
his actual rule was very brief. The queen strenuously 
objected to his encouragement of prophesying, as well as 
to the number of preaching ministers whom he licensed, 

* Neal, p. 186 ; Froude, xi. 43. 


and, upon his refusing to give way, suspended Mm from 
office, the suspension lasting until shortly before his 
death, in 1583.* Owing partly to his influence, partly 
to the fact that most of the old non-conforming clergy 
had been silenced, and perhaps still more to fears incited 
by the Jesuits, who about this time began their active 
campaign in England, the Puritans seem to have been 
but little disturbed for several years, although, in 1581, 
some acts were passed by Parhament which, aimed pri- 
marily at the Catholics, bore heavily upon the non-con- 
formists in later days.f 

But upon the death of Grindal a prelate took his place 
who was well qualified to carry out all the wishes of the 
queen. This was John Whitgift, a man Avho did more 
to develop the aggressive Puritanism of later years, with 
its outgrowth of independent sects, than any other per- 
son except Elizabeth herself. Whitgift had been Master 
of Trinity College when Cartwright was its Professor of 
Divinity. He was ignorant, probably not even know- 
ing Greek ; :|: was as narrow-minded as he was ignorant, 
but full of zeal for the establishment. He had been 
chiefly instrumental in driving Cartwright from Cam- 
bridge, and had been subsequently distinguished for 
some violent pamphlets against the Puritans. As a re- 
ward for these services he was made Bishop of Worces- 
ter. 'Now, Elizabeth had determined that, while " she 
would suppress the papistical religion so that it should 

* Hallam's " Const. Hist.," i. 201. In the opinion of Elizabeth, two 
or three preachers in a county were enough- 

t One of these acts imposed a fine of twenty pounds per month for 
not attending the Established Church. Another made it felony, 
punishable with death, to libel the queen. 

I Hallam's " Const. Hist.," i. 203. 


not grow, she would root out Puritanism and the favor- 
ers thereof."^ For the latter purpose she could have 
chosen no better instrument than her " little black par- 
son," as she used to call him. f As for the Catholics, 
they were so pleased with his work that Throgmorton, 
who was executed for conspiracy in the following year, 
called him " the meetest bishop in the realm ;" and, 
about the same time, Mary Stuart exultingly exclaimed : 
"N'othing is lacking, but only the setting-up of the 
mass again." :j; 

"Whitgift began his official duties with great vigor. He 
was appointed archbishop in September, 1583 ; in Octo- 
ber he issued orders for the enforcement of religious dis- 
cipline throughout the realm. One of these orders pro- 
hibited all preaching, reading, or catechising in private 
houses, whereto any not of the same family shall resort, 
" seeing the same was never permitted as lawful under 
any Christian magistrate." As all public gatherings had 
been suppressed before, it was now intended to prevent 
the assembling of neighbors to read the Bible or for any 
religious services. This order, however, was aimed only 
at private individuals ; the others which accompanied it 
were directed at the clergy. They were all to subscribe 
a declaration, in writing, that the. Book of Common 

* Strype's " Whitgift, Annals," iv. 242. "We shall see in later 
chapters something of the dangers -which at this particular time 
threatened England from abroad. Thej^ served to arouse the cour- 
age of the nation at large, but seem to have turned the thoughts of 
Elizabeth more than ever to the idea of reconciliation with Rome. 
The suppression of the Puritans was a necessary step in this direc- 

t Froude, x. 116, 117 ; Hallam, i. 203. 

t Robert Beal, Clerk of the Council, to Whitgift, May 7th, 1584; 
Strype's " Whitgift," App. book iii. No. 6. 


Prayer contained nothing contrary to the Word of God, 
and a promise that they would use its Form of Prayer 
and no other ; also an approval of the Thirty-nine Arti- 
cles, set out by the queen's authority in 1562, and a 
declaration that all such articles were agreeable to the 
Word of God. In addition, it was provided that no one 
should exercise ecclesiastical functions unless he had 
been admitted to holy orders according to the manner 
of the Church of England.* 

It would have been diificult even for Whitgift, in his 
ignorance of law, to have framed a document more full 
of illegal exactions than was this. The statutes of the 
realm required the use of the Book of Common Prayer, 
but did not require any such declaration or promise as it 
demanded. ISTeither did they require such an acceptance 
of the Thirty-nine Articles. When a bill for the latter 
purpose was brought into Parliament, it was amended so 
as to provide simply for a subscription to "all the Ar- 
ticles of Religion which only concern the confession of 
the true Christian faith and the doctrine of the Sacra- 
ments." t As for ordination according to the " manner 
of the Church of England," the very statute which re- 
quired a qualified subscription to the Articles admitted, 
by implication, the validity of other ordination. Hun- 
dreds of old priests were still in their livings who had 
never been reordained, and many Protestants were 
preaching who had been ordained only in Scotland or 
upon the Continent.:}: 

* Strype's " Whitgift," pp. 114, 117. 

t 13 Eliz. cap. xii. sec. 1. 

I The -words of the statute are : " That every person, under the de- 
gree of bishop, wlio doth or shall pretend to be a priest or minister 
of God's holy Word and Sacraments, by reason of any other form of 


The primate did not intend by these orders to trouble 
the Catholics : they could be reached when necessary by 
special statutes. He was bent on rooting out the Puri- 
tans, especially those who had been ordained abroad. 
Ministers suspected of non-conforming tendencies were 
brought before him and the other bishops by the score. 
They offered to subscribe to the Articles and to the 
Prayer-book, so far as the law required subscription. 
They showed that the Prayer-book then in use contained 
additions not ratified by Parliament ; that its novel state- 
ment that " children being baptized have all things nec- 
essary to their salvation, and be undoubtedly saved," was, 
in their opinion, contrary to the Word of God, and there- 
fore they refused to say the contrary, P)Ut Whitgift 
cared as little for the law as his royal mistress. In most 
cases he would take nothing but an unconditional sub- 
mission. This was refused by many, and hundreds of 
parishes were left without a preacher.* 

But even this was not sufficient for the queen and 
her archbishop. The Act of Supremacy, passed in 1559, 

institution, consecration, or ordering than the form set forth by 
Parliament," etc., " shall . . . subscribe to all the Articles of Religion 
which only concern the true Christian faith and the doctrine of the 
Sacraments, . . . upon j)ain of being ipso facto deprived, and his eccle- 
siastical promotions void as if he were naturally dead." — 13 Eliz. 
cap. xii. sec. 1. See the whole subject of the illegality of these or- 
ders ably discussed in "The Puritans and Queen Elizabeth," by Sam- 
uel HojDkins, of Massachusetts, vol. ii. chaps, xiii. and xiv. The form 
of this book has, perhaps, obscured its real value as the work of a 
painstaking, conscientious scholar. 

* According to Neal, chap, vii., in six counties alone — Norfolk, 
Suffolk, Sussex, Essex, Kent, and Lincolnshire — two hundred and 
thirty-three ministers were suspended, of whom some were allowed 
time for reconsideration, but forty-nine were absolutely deprived at 


which vested all ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the crown, 
empowered the queen to execute it by commissioners, 
in such manner and for such time as she should direct. 
Under this act several commissions had been created, 
sitting for limited periods, but with constantly aug- 
mented authority. 'Now, however, at the suggestion 
of Whitgift, a permanent commission was established 
which, under the name of the High Commission Court, 
continued its obnoxious life until hacked down by the 
Long Parhament. This court was created on the 9th 
of December, 1583. It consisted of fort3^-four commis- 
sioners, twelve of whom were bishops, some privy-coun- 
cillors, and the rest partly clergymen and partly civil- 
ians. To any three, one being a bishop, power was 
given to punish all persons absenting themselves from 
church in violation of the statutes; to visit and reform 
heresies and schisms according to law ; to deprive all 
beneficed persons holding any doctrines contrary to the 
Thirty-nine Articles ; to punish incest, adulteries, and ' 
all offences of the kind ; to examine all suspected per- 
sons on their oaths ; and to punish all who should re- 
fuse to appear before them, or to obey their orders, by 
spiritual censure, or by discretionary fine or imprison- 

In nothing did this Commission fall behind Alva's 
famous Council of Blood, created fifteen years before, 
except in the power of punishing by death ; and in the 
condition of the English prisons of that day even this 
power was indirectly granted, for the jail-fever was as 
fatal as the axe of the executioner. Of its origin, the 
unimpassioned Hallam says, "the primary model was 
the Inquisition itself." f 

* Hallam, i. 204. t Idem. 


Furnished with such an engine, Whitgift was not 
slow in putting it to use. In view of the provision 
which allowed the examination of suspected persons 
under their own oaths, he proceeded to frame a set of 
twenty-four interrogatories, to be administered to all 
persons supposed to be inclined to non-conformity. In 
May, ISStt, all was ready, and the tribunal began its ses- 
sions. The suspected clergymen, mostly young men, as 
Whitgift said, were summoned before the court. They 
"were not shown the interrogatories, nor advised of what 
charge was made against them. First, they were sworn 
to tell the truth ; then the questioning began, the at- 
tempt being made to discover w^hether they had ever 
omitted the ring in marriage, the cross in baptism, the 
wearing of the surplice, or any of the prayers of the 
Church ; whether they doubted any of its articles ; and, 
finally, the victim was interrogated as to his future 

Reports of what was going on came to the ears of 
Lord Burghley in July. He then sent for the inter- 
rogatories, and read them for the first time. He was 
far from being a Puritan himself — in fact, he had been 
very friendly to the archbishop — but now he could not 
restrain his indignation. Throwing aside his custo- 
mary diplomatic caution, he sat down and in an ear- 
nest letter told Whitgift very plainly w^hat he thought 
of his proceedings.f But little did Whitgift care for 

* Strype's " Whitgift," Appendix. 

t " Your twenty-four articles," he said, " I find so curiously jjenued, 
so full of branches and circumstances, as I think the Inquisitors of 
Spain use not so many questions to comprehend and to trap their 
preys. ... I desire the peace of the Church. I desire concord and 
unity in the exercise of our religion. I favor no sensual and wilful 
recusants. But I conclude that, according to my simple judgment, 


Burghley, or even for the whole council, which remon- 
strated against his action. He had his commission and 
behind him stood the queen. Behind her stood the acts 
of Parliament which without her consent could not be 

How the work resulted is shown in a petition which 
came up to the council from the county of Essex. Our 
ministers having been taken away, it said, "we have 
none left but such as we can prove unJBt for the office. 
They are altogether ignorant, having been either popish 
priests, or shiftless men thrust in upon the ministry 
when they knew not how else to live — serving-men and 
the basest of all sorts ; and, what is most lamentable, 
as they are men of no gifts, so they are of no common 
honesty, but rioters, dicers, drunkards, and such like, 
of offensive lives." '^' Incited by this petition, the coun- 
cil made an examination for itself, and, on the 20th of 
September, 1584, sent to his Grace of Canterbury and 
to the Lord Bishop of London a letter signed by Burgh- 
ley, Howard, Shrewsbury, Crofts, Warwick, Hatton, 
Leicester, and "Walsingham. This was no Puritan doc- 
ument, but an official statement, made by Protestants 
and Catholics conjointly, of the condition in which they 
found the Church, not in Essex alone, but throughout 
the kingdom. As to this particular county, there was 
enclosed a list of learned and zealous ministers deprived 
and suspended, and another list "of persons having 
cures, being far unmeet for any offices in the Church." 

this kind of proceeding is too much savoring of the Romish Inqui- 
sition; and is rather a device to seek for offenders than to reform 
any. This is not the charitable instruction that I thought Avas in- 
tended."— July 1st, 1584, Strype's " Whitgift," App. book iii. No. 9. 
* Neal. 


" Against all these sorts of lewd, evil, unprofitable, and 
corrupt members, we hear of no inquisitions, nor any 
kind of proceeding to the reformation of these horrible 
offences in the Church ; but yet of great diligence, yea, 
and extremity, used against those that are known dili- 
gent preachers. . . . We do hear daily of the hke in 
generality in many other places." * 

In Aylmer, Bishop of London, Avithin whose diocese 
was the county of Essex, the archbishop had a worthy 
coadjutor. He was one of the prelates whose official dis- 
honesty reflected the greatest discredit upon the Church, f 
But, whatever his faults as a man, no one could ques- 
tion his zeal against the non-conformists. In 1584, he 
suspended thirty-eight clergymen in Essex alone — men 
earnest in Christian work and of unblemished hfe — for 
refusing to w^ear the surplice. As he was absent from 
the city when the council's communication w^as re- 
ceived, the archbishop replied that he could not make 
full answer to it ; that he hoped the information to be 
in most parts unjust ; that if the ministers were as re- 
ported, they were worthy of grievous punishment, and 
that he would not be slack therein ; but he added — in- 
nocently revealing the character of his commission — that 
none, or few, had been presented for any such misde- 
meanors. :|; 

Nothing upon the record shows that anything was 

* Strype's " Whitgift," pp. 166, 167. 

t " The violence of Aylmer's temper was not redeemed by many 
virtues ; it is impossible to exonerate his character from the impu- 
tations of covetousness, and of plundering the revenues of his see — 
faults very prevalent among the bishops of that period." — Hallam, 
i. 205. 

I Strype's » Whitgift," pp. 167, 168. 


clone after the return of Aylmer ;* but the action of this 
prelate in the succeeding year tells what he thought 
of such complaints as those which came up from the 
factious Puritans of his diocese. 

Thomas Carew, a minister of Hatfield, in the county 
of Essex, had angered the bishop by informing him that 
in his county, " within the compass of sixteen miles, 
were twenty-two non-resident ministers, and thirty who 
were insufficient for their office and of scandalous lives, 
while at the same time there were nineteen who were 
silenced for refusing subscription." In 1585, he was 
hauled up before the High Commission. A clergyman 
who would thus criticise the action of his superiors must 
naturally belong to the suspected party, and for such 
men the famous interrogatories had been prepared by 
Whitgift. Being offered the oath preliminary to his 
examination, he, as many others did before and after 
him, refused to take it, on the ground that under the 
law of England from the time of Magna Charta no 
man could be compelled to criminate himself. For this 
contempt he was committed to prison without bail, 
and the bishop sent down another minister to take his 

The patron of the living objected to this interference 
with his legal rights, and declined to recognize the new 
incumbent. He, too, was sent to prison, and the bishop 
remained master of the field. Very soon, however, Mr. 
Carew's successor was detected in adultery, and the 
parishioners presented a request for his removal and 
the reinstatement of their former clergyman. Aylmer 
replied that "for all the livings he had he would not 

* Hopkins, ii. 436. 


deprive a poor man of his living for the fact of adul- 
tery." * 

This incident, occurring in the centre of English civili- 
zation, furnishes a suggestive illustration of the conflict 
which was going on within the English Church. On 
the one side stood a people asking for religious teach- 
ing; on the other, a hierarchy discouraging all such 
teaching, and telling the nation that even morality was 
of no importance when compared with forms and cere- 
monies. The Puritans, as developed in later days, have 
been often reviled and ridiculed for attempting to find a 
rule of life in what they regarded as the law of God laid 
down in the Old Testament, Few persons to-day will 
hold them blameworthy for believing that obedience to 
the Decalogue was of more vital importance than the 
wearing of a surplice or the use of the cross in baptism. 

Here, for the present, we may leave this class of non- 
conformists. We have seen a little of the mode in which 
Elizabeth and her prelates dealt with these men, who 
then alone went by the name of Puritans — men who 
had no thought of leaving the Established Church, but 
who for nearly thirty years had been struggling for 
some liberty of worship under the protection of the law. 
Time and again they had appealed to Parliament for 
redress, and time and again bold members had stood up 
in the House of Commons to plead their cause, only to 
be sent to the Tower for calling in question the spirit- 
ual supremacy of the crown. Still, the repressive meas- 
ures of the government were comparatively mild until 
"Whitgift came upon the scene. He told Burghley, in 
1584, that " not severity, but lenity, hath bred this 

* Brook's "Lives of the Puritans," ii. 16G, citing MSS. Register, 
pp. 653, 654 ; Hopkins, iii. 33. 


schism in the Church," * and he evidently expected that 
a different pohcy would heal the breach. Perhaps he 
was right; perhaps, too, if he had been dealing only 
with Englishmen, undisturbed by any foreign influence, 
his policy of repression by fine and imprisonment, which 
was carried on systematically throughout the kingdom, 
might have proved effectual, and England might have 
been purged of Puritanism. 

But for some years England had not been left to her- 
self to work out her problems alone, as in preceding 
centuries. We have seen how the Catholics from the 
Continent were affecting one part of the community, 
inculcating a spirit of resistance to authority little 
known before among the middle classes. On the Prot- 
estant side there was also a direct foreign influence at 
work, which was even more powerful, although little 
noticed by historians. In the next chapter we shall see 
something of its character ; and, later on, something of 
its results in the development of a new class of reform- 
ers very different from the early Puritans. 

- Strype's " Wbitgift," p. 172. 



Thus far, in considering the foreign influences which 
affected the Puritanism of England during the early 
days of Elizabeth, Ave have confined our view mainly to 
the theological stream which flowed directly from the 
great fountain-head of Calvinism at Geneva. This 
stream colored all the theology of the island, and so 
every writer who has treated of this period has been 
compelled to recognize its presence. But creeds are 
only lifeless words. The metaphysical doctrines which 
the Marian exiles brought back from Switzerland, un- 
like discoveries in science or the arts, were in themselves 
of little value. Posterity owes to these men a great 
debt of gratitude for their devotion to what they con- 
sidered truth. Many of them, in addition to their theo- 
logical teachings, did a noble work in trjnng to reform 
the morals of their native land. Put, unless outside in- 
fluences had reinforced their efforts, the labors of these 
early reformers would have passed away, and left but a 
faint impression. Certain it is, that the wave of Protes- 
tantism which came into England with the accession of 
Elizabeth affords no adequate explanation of the course 
of subsequent events, which were even more remarkable 
in the State than in the Church. 

]S"othing in the development of English Puritanism is 
L— 31 


more suggestive than the change which came over its 
character in the space of a comparatively few years. In 
its early days it dwelt among the learned, and to a con- 
siderable extent among the powerful and wealthy; in 
the next century, it had shifted its abode almost entirely 
to the dwellings of the middle classes and the poor. In 
this particular, the movement was somewhat peculiar. 
Early Christianity began at the bottom and worked up- 
wards, so have most religious revivals since that time.* 
Such has been the growth of the Quakers, the Baptists, 
and the more modern Methodists. But Puritanism in 
England began at the top and worked downwards. For 
years after Elizabeth ascended the throne, some of the 
most prominent statesmen, many of the most learned 
bishops, and almost all of the most distinguished divines, 
were Reformers or Puritans, who, even if they outward- 
ly conformed, yet advocated changes in the discipline 
and ceremonial of the establishment. These men, and 
others like them, laid down the doctrines of the Angli- 
can Church on lines so strictly Calvinistic that John 
Knox, or even Calvin himself, could have found little in 
them of which to disapprove. 

But in a few years all this was changed. During the 
reign of Elizabeth's immediate successor the old Calvin- 
istic theology fell into disfavor ; under Charles I. it was 
entirely repudiated by the ambitious divines of the 
Church who sought high preferment.f Meantime, the 
men who wished to reform the discipline or service of 
the Church were no longer found among the magnates 

* I do not now speak of the so-called religious movements, -whicli 
were really political, as was much of the Protestantism in France 
and the Lutheranism of Germany. 

+ Macaulay, 1. 74 ; Buckle, Amer. ed., 1864, i. 611. 


of the land. Prelate vied with courtier in proclaiming 
the doctrine that Episcopacy was ordained of God, and 
that the only fault in its servive was too great a simplicity. 
The theology of Calvin had worked downwards, and so 
had the demand for a simpler form of worship. To be 
sure, there were still non-conforming ministers of educa- 
tion, scholars, bred at the universities, with all the learn- 
ing and culture of the time, but the majority of the Puri- 
tans were taken from a different class. The men who 
dethroned their king, and who, under the Common- 
wealth, made the name of England respected wherever 
a European tongue was spoken, sprang from the loins 
of the common people. Look over the list of the famous 
soldiers, sailors, and civilians of that time, and we find 
not men of lofty lineage, but, for the greater part, small 
landed proprietors, brewers, bakers, tailors, merchants, 
even cobblers, tinkers, draymen, and body servants.* 
The Roundhead, whose appearance and language are 
familiar to every reader, was a very different character, 
externally regarded, from the courtly and scholarly Re- 
formers of the early days of Elizabeth. The latter rep- 
resent English Puritanism of the third quarter of the 
sixteenth century; the former show what it had become 
in the second quarter of the seventeenth. The causes of 
this change seem worthy of more consideration than 
they have generally received. 

How Puritanism almost died out among the wealthy 
and the learned of England can be readily understood. 
As we have seen, the exiles who returned from the Con- 
tinent upon the accession of Elizabeth represented most 
of the learning of the realm. They were numerous 

* See Buckle, i. 474, for an extended account of the origin and 
pursuits of the men prominent in the Commonwealth. 


enough — some eight hundred having fled from the per- 
secutions of Mary — to have produced, under favorable 
conditions, a marked effect. Almost to a man they de- 
sired a reformation of the Church, far beyond the point 
to which it had been carried under Henry or his son Ed- 
ward. Parliament favored them, for the nation had still 
ringing in its ears the agonizing cries of the martyrs as 
the flames blazed up at Smithfield. Had the queen been 
also their ally, and had she filled the pulpits with men 
of the same stamp, England would have been made Prot- 
estant in fact as well as in name, the abuses of the crown 
w^ould have been gradually corrected, and with general 
education, as in Scotland and Holland, the people would 
have been elevated to a higher plane. There might in 
the process have been disorder, as men then and ever 
since have affected to believe, but postponement only 
brought on the tempest, which, in the next century, 
swept the land, because a reformation, culminating in 
the divine right of kings and the celestial origin of the 
Established Church, Tvas in truth little more than a mon- 
strous sham. 

But Elizabeth, advised by Spain and backed by her 
Catholic favorites, was strong enough to prevent any 
open change. Still, there was a silent revolution to be 
dreaded, one which might come about if the people were 
instructed in religious questions. To prevent this also 
her measures seemed Avell directed. The men w^ho were 
intellectually inclined to schemes of Church reforms, but 
who had no intensity of conviction, were easily disposed 
of. Some of them were placed in bishoprics, others in 
lucrative livings. They soon discovered that if they 
were to hold on to the good things of this life they must 
obey the wishes of the queen. The lesson was learned, 
and the zeal of many was abated forever. Pather than 


surrender their comfortable surroundings, they were con- 
tent to swim with the current, and let the Reformation 
take care of itself. The new men coming into the min- 
istry saw that the path to preferment lay, not through 
scholarship, eloquence, or piety, but through the practice 
of the courtier's arts. They, too, learned their lesson, 
and the second generation was little vexed by reformers 
in the high places of the Church.* 

But there was another class, much more difficult to 
deal with — men who could neither be bribed nor flat- 
tered into silence. It is easy enough to-day, when forms 
and ceremonies have lost much of their power, to speak 
of them as narrow-minded, because they would not wear 
the old priestly robes, nor use rites which kept alive the 
recollections of the ancient Church. They were wiser 
than their modern critics and understood their age. 
They sought a separation from the papacy as complete 
as that which the Israelites effected when they placed a 
sea and a wilderness between themselves and the Egyp- 
tians. EHzabeth also took in the situation as well. She 
was determined that there should be no such separation. 
The ships of her refo